By Francis Wakefield
Three Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed while three others were captured in the sustained offensives of the Joint Task Forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Western Mindanao Command (AFP-WestMinCom).
Nine high-powered firearms were also seized during the operations.
Elements of the Philippine Marine Ready Fleet Sulu (PMRFS), led by Colonel Antonio Rosario, Jr., encountered fully armed Abu Sayyaf bandits in Barangay Sukuban, Omar, Sulu at 5 a.m., Wednesday.
An exchange of gunfire ensued, resulting in the death of a bandit, whose body was retrieved by the engaged troops, and the seizure of eight high-powered firearms left by the evading Abu Sayyaf members.
The firearms seized included four M16 rifles, an M77, an M14 rifle, and two Garand rifles.
No casualty was reported on the government forces.
Earlier, elements of the PMRFS, Marine Special Operation Group engaged in a gun battle with Abu Sayyaf members under sub-leader Sibih Pisih in Barangay Mabahay, Talipao, Sulu Province at 9:30 p.m., Monday evening.
The armed confrontation lasted for 10 minutes, resulting in the deaths of two Abu Sayyaf members, and the seizure of an M16 rifle.
“One soldier was wounded in action during the firefight,” said Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
“He was safely evacuated last night and given medical attention at the Kuta Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo, Sulu, and is already stable by now,” he added.
“I would like to recognize the efforts of our Joint Task Forces and the sacrifices of our soldiers,” said Lieutenant General Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., Commander of the WestMinCom.
“As we continue on our fight to finish off the Abu Sayyaf, we are able to neutralize them in groups or individually because of our growing network of supporters,” he added.
Further, on Tuesday, joint operations of the military and the police arrested of three more Abu Sayyaf members and the seizure of an explosive in Zamboanga City.
Joint elements of police and the soldiers from 11th Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Rolando Gomez, served a warrant of arrest for kidnapping and serious illegal detention with ransom to Abu Sayyaf member Kimhar Asusi, alias Abu Kimar, a resident of Parang, Sulu, upon his arrival at the Zamboanga City Port at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
A fragmentation grenade was found inside the bag of the bandit upon initial search.
Asusi was subsequently brought to the Zamboanga Police Station 11 for legal procedures.
In his report to the Western Mindanao Command, Colonel Leonel Nicolas said that Asusi is a Sulu-based ASG member who started as an errand boy of Abu Sayyaf member Roger Sadji, while safekeeping the Sipadan hostages in 2000.
Records show that Asusi was previously under Sibih Pisih, but he transferred to the group of sub-leader Angah Adji. He was involved in the kidnapping of two Coast Guard personnel in Dipolog last 2015. The victims were later rescued in Indanan, Sulu.
On the evening of same day, Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf members under Idang Susukan Al Hamed Manalas Abdurahman, alias Al Amid, 37, and Murasidol Abdurahman, alias Teddung, 32, were arrested by combined elements of the Joint Task Force Zamboanga and the police by virtue of search warrants issued by Judge Eric Elumba.
Seized from Al Hamed were five M16 magazines, nine rounds of M16 live ammunition, and an M16 bolt assembly at his residence in Barangay Maasin, Zamboanga City at around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Elements of the JTF Zamboanga and the police also arrested Murasidol Abdurahman at his residence in Barangay Ayala at around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Seized by the troops were a fragmentation grenade, three blasting caps, and a small bottle of suspected C4 explosive substance.
Al Hamed and Murasidol Abduhraman were brought to the Zamboanga City Police Office for legal procedure past 7 last night.