By Nonoy E. Lacson
Zamboanga City – An Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandit linked to a Sulu – based illegal drugs syndicate was killed while 34 of his cohorts were arrested when their group clashed with government forces in Barangay Danag, Patikul, Sulu at dawn Wednesday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom) spokesman Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay yesterday said the fierce gun battle broke out between the ASG bandits and government forces from the 45th Infantry Battalion.
A soldier was slightly wounded and immediately transported to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Hospital in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.
Petinglay said the ASG bandit, suspected to be involved in the illegal drugs trade drugs in Sulu resisted arrest, which set off the skirmish at around 4 a.m.
The body of the ASG bandit was retrieved by government forces in the area of engagement during clearing operations.
Likewise recovered from the site were an M16 rifle, three .45 caliber pistols, five hand grenades and drug-using items.
The 34 apprehended individuals, along with the recovered items were brought to the Sulu Provincial Police Office for investigation and documentation, she added.
“This development can somehow prove that the Abu Sayyaf bandits involve themselves in the drug trade to sustain their operations against the government and the conduct of their terror attacks, and they may have been funded by drug syndicates who support their schemes,” Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said.
“Rest assured that your armed forces will continue to conduct combat operations against the terrorist group and work with the local government and other law enforcement agencies in the fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs in this side of the country,” AFP-WestMinCom said in a statement.
Meanwhile, another ASG bandit was arrested last Friday by elements of the Marine Special Operation Group (MARSOG) and the 52nd Special Action Force in Barangay Tulay, Jolo, Sulu at 2:45am.