By Francis Wakefield
Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon is reportedly bedridden and requiring blood transfusion after being severely wounded in airstrikes and shelling in Butig, Lanao del Sur that also caused the deaths of at least 15 members of ASG, Maute Group and an Indonesian terrorist.
Hapilon “needs blood transfusion,” said AFP chief of staff General Eduardo Año, citing intelligence reports. “If he fails to get proper medical treatment he will die.”
“He’s bedridden and cannot walk. He’s being carried by his men through the use of an improvised stretcher,” Año added.
Aside from Hapilon, six other terrorists including a foreigner were also wounded, according to Año, who got the number of casualties on intelligence reports on the ground.
After the intensified airstrikes and shelling on Wednesday up until past midnight of Thursday, “there is still ongoing ground operations so we expect that there will be encounters forthcoming,” Año said.
But the military chief said troops on the ground have yet to engage the terrorists who remain hiding in Butig. “Our operations have been deliberate so we expect in the coming days there will be ground [fighting] that will take place.”
Regarding the killed Indonesian terrorist—identified as one “Mohisen”—Año said the authorities are digging and doing more investigation to the Indonesian’s background, including whether he is a member of the so-called Islamic State.
“He was with Isnilon Hapilon when they traveled from Basilan to Lanao del Sur together with the other foreigners. But he (Mohisen) is not like the JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) who is an expert bomb maker,” Año said.
“As to his role it could be a religious adviser. Maybe he was task to organize or unite the various local terrorist groups here. So we will see. I’ve already asked for the background and details about Mohisen.”
Authorities have also monitored two more foreigners who were with Hapilon when they traveled to Lanao del Sur but they have yet to determine their nationalities.
AFP public affairs chief Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo earlier identified two other local terrorists killed aside from “Mohisen” as Sahl Num and one “Sada,” while among the seven wounded are those identified as one “Amirul” and “Emir.”
Año said one of AFP’s four newly acquired South Korean FA-50 fighter jets was used during the airstrikes.
“It was part of the aircraft used by the Air Force. We used a lot of aircraft and the FA-50 was one of them,” Año said.
“The aircraft is very efficient and very precise. So we can see that the FA50 is not only use for ceremonial purposes but for our internal security operations.”