Marines pursue Sayyafs in Sulu
SULU – Philippine Marines were sent to hunt down the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, in an effort to crush the militant group tied to ISIS.
Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said he ordered security forces to intensify the offensives against the Abu Sayyaf which is holding several foreigners and Filipinos kidnapped in the South and in Sabah.
“The Joint Task Force Sulu continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf to neutralize the bandits. All measures are now being undertaken in accordance with the rules of engagement, and with the support of the local government and the populace,” he said.
Just recently, marines killed 3 militants in fierce clashes on Minis Island off Sulu’s Patikul town, but one soldier was also slain and two more wounded in the fighting.
The fighting erupted after a group of marines tracked down dozens of militants on the island and sparked a battle at dawn. By daybreak, troops recovered the bodies of the militants and two M14 rifles.
The slain soldier, who name was not made public by the military, was taken by his companions to a military base in the capital town of Jolo, where the wounded marines were evacuated for medical emergency and later flown to Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City.
Army Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the militants were under Abu Sayyaf commander Majid Emamil. He said the soldiers, all members of the Philippine Marine Ready Force-sulu, fought about 50 gunmen. “Heavy skirmishes ensued resulting in the killing of three enemies based on body count, while a soldier died and two other personnel incurred minor injuries,” Besana said.
Dela said they were saddened by the loss of a brave soldier. “We are deeply saddened by the news that another gallant soldier was killed during the encounter of our troops with the Abu Sayyafs bandits. Rest assured that we will extend all sorts of assistance to the bereaved family,” he said. There were no reports if any of the hostages had been spotted on the island. (Mindanao Examiner)