Military trumpets anti-sayyaf ops in Basilan
BASILAN – The Philippine military trumpeted the capture of several Abu Sayyaf hideouts in the continuing operations against the Isis-affiliate jihadist group, blamed for the spate of ransom kidnappings in the troubled Muslim region in the South.
The Western Mindanao Command, a key military base in the port city of Zamboanga, claimed at least 45 Abu Sayyaf fighters had been slain in fierce clashes in Basilan, but its officials provided no proofs that such a huge number of jihadist were killed in the battle except for unverified intelligence reports.
Security officials said the hideout in Tipo-tipo town had been captured last week by the army’s Special Forces and Light Armor Cavalry underthe joint task force basil an where the elite troops recovered improvised explosives.
Soldiers also discovered bunkers, tunnels and foxholes in the village called Silangkum which can accomodate dozens of Abu Sayyaf fighters.
The jihadists managed to escape even before security forces could reach the area, according to officials, who said the number of casualties was killed over a month-long assault in the towns of Tipo-tipo, Albarka, Tuburan, Maluso, Lantawan and Hadji Mutamad.