Number of Abu Sayyaf casualties in Sulu clash rises to 11

CAMP NAVARRO, Zamboanga City –- The number of casualties of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) that clashed with the government troops on Friday has increased to 11 deaths the initial report of six.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said the pursuing troops have received intelligence information that five more ASG members have died.

Tan said the five who died were among the wounded Abu Sayyaf bandits dragged by their comrades following a 45-minute firefight.

The clash broke out around 6:12 a.m. Friday when the troops spotted more or less 100 Abu Sayyaf bandits while scouring Sitio Makaita, Barangay Bungkaung, Patikul, Sulu.

Tan said one of the 11 killed Abu Sayyaf bandits was Mohammad Said alias Ama Maas, who has five standing warrants of arrest for murder.

He said the troops have recovered the remains of Said and that of other five slain Abu Sayyaf followers at the clash site.

He said Mohammad was involved in the September 21, 2015 kidnapping of three foreigners and a Filipino woman from a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits have beheaded two of the three foreign hostages, both Canadians, on separate occasions and released the Filipino hostage.

The remaining foreign hostages seized in the Island Garden City of Samal is a Norwegian.

Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo Dela Cruz said some of the soldiers who were wounded in action are currently undergoing medical treatment in Sulu and will later be transported to this city for further medication.

Dela Cruz said the others who were slightly wounded opted to stay and continue the pursuit operations.

“Our troops are extremely motivated, they know that this fight against terrorism is greater than themselves. Sa totoo lang, 17 ang sugatan natin pero 10 dun ay slightly wounded lang, nagpaiwan sila para sumama uli sa operation at ipagpatuloy ang laban,” Dela Cruz said.

“Ganyan katindi ang pagtingin namin sa misyon na ito lalo na sa utos ng ating Commander-in-Chief. He gave a specific order. The mission is clear. Seek and destroy the ASG. By all means that’s what we are doing and we will not stop until it’s done,” Dela Cruz added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the military to relentlessly pursue the ASG after the bandits beheaded on Wednesday an 18-year-old boy they seized in July this year in Jolo, Sulu. Teofilo Garcia Jr/PNA/