SUMISIP, Basilan – The Joint Task Force Basilan under Colonel Juvymax R. Uy consisting of the 4th Special Forces Battalion and 3rd Scout Ranger Regiment scored anew after engaging the scampering Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) Thursday, May 11.
Armed with intelligence reports from ASG surrenderers, the local populace, and local government units, the brigade was able to track down the ASG's temporary encampment.
Just before dawn, operating troops under the 4th Special Forces Battalion managed to close in on the enemy's temporary camp in Bgy Pamatsaken, Sumisip municipality, which is believed to be harboring ASG sub-leader Furuji Indama.
“Equipped with night fighting capabilities, our troops were able to inch within a hundred meters of the enemy under the cover of darkness,” Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Bacala Jr, commanding officer of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, said.
Evading several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid out by the bandits, the Special Forces troops managed to seize completely the encampment before 10 in the morning last Thursday.
Seizure of the site yielded 12 makeshift tents capable of accommodating at least 30 to 40 Abu Sayyaf bandits across 150 meters. Blood stains were found in the vicinity, with intel reports estimating no less than 20 ASG fatalities from the combined airstrikes and indirect fires.
The troops also recovered food stuff and explosive components for about 30 IEDs. Three live IEDs were also recovered by Special Forces demolition specialists. One IED, however, was detonated, inflicting minor injuries on two troopers. None were reported to be in critical condition.
Successive firefight followed as the Rangers from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion caught up with the fleeing bandits some 300 meters from the seized encampment.
“Our troops were able to cordon the enemy due to the accurate and timely indirect fires and close air support delivered by our artillery and the Philippine air force,” Uy said.
“Also, the information being volunteered by the populace and LGUs provided critical details to validate the intelligence we have on hand,” he added.
Naval Task Group Basilan also conducted maritime interdiction operations to prevent the bandits from escaping by sea.
Shock and awe
The bandits also got a taste of the air force’s F/A 50 after the jet fighters delivered their deadly payload, inflicting immediate fatalities on the ASG.
“The ASGs were so shocked they left most of their personal belongings and unfinished meal at their encampment,” a team leader from the Special Forces who cleared the site said.
The airstrikes were immediately followed with artillery and mortar fires, inflicting additional damage on the bandits.
Resources dwindling, members getting desperate
Unlike previous engagements, the ASGs have now resorted to evading government forces as their resources run low.
“We no longer experience the prolonged firefights with the ASGs. This suggests that they have run out of ammunition and other supplies necessary to engage government forces," Uy explained. "More than just resources, they no longer have the mass base they once enjoyed."
Debriefing from ASG surrenderers revealed that most of their members “have lost the will to fight due to the intensified military operations and no longer believe in the promises of a better life with the terrorist group,” Uy said.
“It will only take a matter of time before the ASG succumbs and their dream of establishing a folly caliphate will finally come to an end," Uy continued. "With the string of victories we are attaining, it will not take long before the ASG's threats are downgraded to no more than that of an ordinary criminal.” – Rappler.com