2 more ASG bandits killed in Patikul clash, bandit death toll now at 32

MANILA — Two more Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed in the ongoing focused military operations in Patikul, Sulu Tuesday, bringing the number of slain brigands in the more than two weeks offensive to 32.

Joint Task Force Sulu spokesperson Col. Rodrigo Gregorio in a statement Wednesday said the latest clash between government forces and the ASG took place 2: 35 p.m. Tuesday in the mountainous area of Patikul.

Gregorio said troops from the 35th and 21st Infantry Battalions were able to engage an estimated 30 ASG bandits being pursued by the 45th Infantry Battalion, killing two and wounding many more in the ensuing 30 minute-firefight.

Civilians claimed that the two downed bandits were immediately buried by their companions.

The fleeing ASGs were reportedly headed by Jamiri Jaong Jawhari and Basaran Arok.

Gregorio said no government losses were reported.

“There will be no let up in the effort to rescue the remaining hostages. Our priority is the safe rescue of the victims and protection of local communities in Sulu against terrorists and criminal elements,” Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega said.

“Local folks are gradually helping in protecting their own communities against the ASG scourge and showing defiance against the bandits,” he added.

Dela Vega stressed that they are confident that more and more people in Sulu, including local government unit officials, community and religious leaders will cooperate in giving timely and accurate information to stop the un-Islamic and barbaric acts of ASG.

It may be recalled that the latest victim beheaded by the ASG, Patrick Almodovar is a local Muslim resident whose mother is a Tausug.

“We call on the Abu Sayyaf to stop these kidnappings and killings which are all violations of the Koran and against Islam as pointed out by Islamic scholars worldwide” Brig. Dela Vega concluded. Priam Nepomuceno/PNA/northboundasia.com