ZAMBOANGA CITY – Two suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were killed while nine others were wounded in clashes with government troops in Basilan province on Saturday, a top military official disclosed.
Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force-Basilan commander, said in a text message that the clash broke out around 7:31 a.m. in Barangay Sukaten, Sumisip town, and continued sporadically.
The Western Mindanao Command said in a separate text message that the firefight was ongoing as of this writing.
Gobway said four of the nine wounded are troopers of the 64th Infantry Battalion (IB) while the other five are followers of the slain ASG leader Radzmil Janatul (alias Abu Khubayb).
Three soldiers were wounded in the first clash and another one was injured in the second firefight that occurred several minutes later.
Gobway said the first clash ensued as the followers of Janatul opened fire while government forces were checking the reported presence of a “group of armed men” in Barangay Sukaten, some two kilometers away from the headquarters of the 64IB.
The bandits started gathering Friday afternoon, intelligence reports stated.
“As of this time, there were two killed and five wounded on the side of the enemy,” Gobway confirmed.
The 64IB troopers have been on red alert in anticipation of retaliatory action from the ASG following the death of Janatul on March 25.
Jannatul was killed in a clash with the troops of the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion (5SRB) in Sitio Center, Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip.
The 5SRB troopers were on combat operation when they clashed with Jannatul’s group. (PNA)