5 ASG men killed, 7 soldiers wounded in Sulu clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY — Five Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while seven soldiers were wounded in a clash as rescue operation for the remaining kidnap victims has continued in Sulu, military officials disclosed Monday

The clash broke out when the Marine Battalion Landing Team-3 (MBLT-3) troops, led by Lt. Col. Ramil Densing, chanced upon some 30 Abu Sayyaf bandits at around 4:15 a.m. Sunday in Bud (Mount) Bawis, Panamao, Sulu.

The MBLT-3 troops were scouring Bud Bawis after they received information that the group of Abu Sayyaf Sub-leaders Sansibar Bensio and Hatib Munap Binda were in the area hiding along with some kidnap victims.

“Upon arrival in the area, our troops were fired upon by the enemy, resulting to an exchange of gun fires,” Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said.

Sobejana said the troops were cautious since the safety of the hostages are of paramount concern.

Sobejana said the firefight lasted for one-and-a-half hour after which the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled due to the superior firepower of the troops leaving behind the remains of four slain bandits and an M-14 rifle.

Sobejana said the four slain bandits were identified as the following: Mikdak Juhurim; Annin Black; Tasom Hammiri; and, Undil Husin.

Sobejana said they were informed by witnesses that another Abu Sayyaf follower, identified as a certain Roger, who was wounded, has expired while the bandits were fleeing.

“Also, they (witnesses) saw the (bandit) group carrying and helping a number of wounded companions.” he added.

He said they have coordinated with the local officials of Panamao town to afford appropriate and decent burial to the slain Abu Sayyaf bandits if their remains left unclaimed.

He said the troops are tracking down the group of Bensio and Binda, who are operating in the towns of Panamao, Omar and Luuk.

Bensio belongs to the group of slain Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya and was involved in kidnapping and safekeeping of kidnap victims including those Indonesians who were released in 2016.

“Bensio is listed Number 1 in our Periodic Status Report of government enemies and is reported to have about eight members,” Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said.

Galvez said that record showed the group of Bensio was involved in a clash with soldiers on January 31, 2017 in Barangays Pugad Manaul and Bulangsi, Panamao.

Galvez said that Binda is a former Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) sub-leader based in the town of Talipao and was operating in Kalingalang Caluang municipality.

Galvez said the Binda’s group was deleted from the government watch list following years of inactivity. His group was also once known to be actively participating and supporting the group of Misaya.

The identities of the wounded troops, who belong to the MBLT-3, were withheld.

“They were all immediately evacuated to safety for immediate medical attention,” Galvez said.

He said operations continue to rescue all the hostages being held captives by the Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Latest Westmincom data showed that the Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives nine people.

They included five foreigners–three Indonesians, one Vietnamese and one Dutch–and four Filipinos. (PNA)