18 troops hurt in Basilan clash-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Friday, April 11, 2014
ZAMBOANGA (Updated) – At least 18 soldiers were wounded in two successive clashes against the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the hinterlands of Basilan province, military officials said Friday.
Basilan-based Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade information officer Capt. Richard Enciso said that eight soldiers were wounded when a clash erupted around 2:25 a.m. Friday at Sitio Kurellem, Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo.
Another clash ensued several minutes later in the same area, resulting in the injury of 10 other soldiers.
Enciso said the Abu Sayyaf bandits were believed to have suffered casualties during the two succeeding clashes.
Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela said the soldiers, who suffered slight injuries, were airlifted to the military’s Camp Navarro General Hospital in this city.
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The identities of the soldiers were not immediately available except that they belong to the Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion.
Muyuela said the troops were conducting combat operations when they encountered the group of Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Furuji Indama, a commander of the militant group, from a village in the town of Tipo-Tipo.
Muyuela said the combat operation is primarily aimed against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who were responsible in extortions activities victimizing project contractors who are concreting the Magkawa-Al-Barka section of the Basilan Circumferential Road.
She said the combat operation is purposely to clear the areas of Tipo-Tipo and Albarka of Abu Sayyaf influence to pave the way for the normalization and development of the two depressed areas.
She said that tension remains high as the Abu Sayyf bandits have occupied the school buildings in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo.
AFP spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said around 200 troops were deployed before dawn Friday to arrest around 20 bandits led by Indama.
Indama has been wanted by Philippine authorities for his alleged involvement in deadly bombings and kidnappings, including a former Australian soldier who was freed last year after 15 months of jungle captivity and payment of ransom.
Indama has also been blamed for the 2007 beheadings of 10 marines in Basilan.
Zagala said he had no immediate information on Abu Sayyaf casualties. (With reports from AP)