ZAMBOANGA CITY: Government troops clashed on Monday with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits in Basilan that resulted in over a dozen casualties on the military side, officials said.
Officials said the fighting was so fierce that more soldiers were needed to reinforce the troops battling the rebels in the town of Sumisip.
Army Captain Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson for the Western Mindanao Command, said three pro-government militias were killed and 11 others wounded, including six Special Forces soldiers.
“A heavy armed confrontation ensued between patrolling troops of the Joint Task Force Basilan and members of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Sumisip,” she added.
The engagements resulted in “five members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary sustaining wounds, while three CAA members were killed in action. Six other soldiers were also wounded during the second encounter,” Petinglay said.
She added eight of the injured were brought to Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City while the others remain in hospital in Basilan.
There was no immediate report of ASG casualties.
The encounter ensued in areas where security forces earlier liberated several villages from the influence of the Abu Sayyaf.
Last month, Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao led civilians, local leaders, the military and the police in celebrating the liberation of several villages in Sumisip and launched a “People’s Day” as tribute to democracy and freedom from the Abu Sayyaf.
Hataman said since 2012, the regional government allocated some P877 million worth of projects like roads and bridges to spur development and help the local economy progress.
But despite these efforts, the Abu Sayyaf continues to sow terror in the province just several nautical miles away from the port city of Zamboanga.