MANILA, Philippines – A soldier was killed while 9 others were wounded in a “fierce firefight” between Army troops and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu, on Monday, June 22, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said in a media statement.
At around noon on Monday, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion on offensive clashed with an undetermined number of members of the terror group in Sitio Tubig Bukayon, Barangay Pansul.
“Our troops are still pursuing the withdrawing enemies who left several bloodstains on their tracks,” said Joint Task Force Sulu commander Major General Corleto Vinluan Monday night.
The bloodstains indicate an “undetermined number” of casualties among the Abu Sayyaf, the AFP Westmincom statement said.
“The skirmishes between our forces and the ASG persist. As we actively support the civil government in preventing the spread of COVID-19, we also ensure that the people in the community are safe and secure from terrorism,” said AFP Westmincom commander Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.
The family of the fallen soldier will be notified and given “all forms of assistance,” Sobejana added.
The military in Sulu has launched sustained offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in recent months. Operations in April and May have led to the killing of at least 7 Abu Sayyaf members, including a certain “Vikram,” believed to be the grandson of the group’s top leader Radullan Sahiron.
The Abu Sayyaf has links to the Islamic State international terror group. Although holed up mostly in Sulu, the group poses a threat to the entire Philippines.
On June 15, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr said 8 Abu Sayyaf “sleepers” have been captured in Metro Manila since 2019, while another one remains at large. Sleepers are members of a terrorist group who, though inactive, may be called upon to attack.
This, as Esperon defended the enrolled bill on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature. – Rappler.com