MANILA, Philippines – Two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were killed in a clash with the military in Patikul, Sulu, on Sunday, February 23, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said.
Fighting broke out in Barangay Bakong at around 1 pm, between troops from the Philippine Army’s 15th Scout Ranger Company and bandits from the Abu Sayyaf’s factions under its main leader Radullan Sahiron and its pro-Islamic State (ISIS) sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.
Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Taullah Abdurasa, also known as Amah Ollah, and a certain Baby Ollah were killed in the clash. They were both on the government’s terror watchlist.
Two government soldiers were wounded.
Mortar teams provided fire support to the engaged Army troops, who recovered two high-powered firearms from the bandits.
"Pursuit and deliberate offensives continue to pressure and pound down Abu Sayyaf fighters, constricting their movement and preempting terror ploys in the [Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi] area,” said Westmincom chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana.
"We build up combat and intelligence operations to debilitate the militants in Sulu," he added.
The Sulu province is the main hideout of the Abu Sayyaf. It saw several suicide bombings in 2019, and is said to be the nucleus of ISIS-related activity in the southern Philippines.
The group’s faction under Sawadjaan is reported by the military to be involved with ISIS, coddling foreign extremists who train local members in making bombs and carrying out attacks.
The Abu Sayyaf’s other factions are known for kidnap-for-ransom runs around Mindanao and Sabah. The British-Filipino couple Alan and Wilma Hyrons were rescued from the group in November last year. The group still holds several Indonesians and a Filipino hostage, according to the military. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.