18 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed as AFP continues offensive

CAMP NAVARRO, Zamboanga City, July 11 (PNA) –- The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has suffered 18 dead and nine wounded members as the government forces continue to pound them with artillery and air strike in the hinterlands of Basilan province, a military official announced Monday.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesperson, said the series of armed confrontations are concentrated in Barangays Baguindan and Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.

“Heavy firefight is still ongoing involving Armored Vehicles, Artillery Fires and Close Air Support against the ASG (brigands) as of this time,” Tan said in a statement emailed Monday to the Philippines News Agency.

The offensive against the group of ASG brigand leaders Isnilon Hapilon and Furuji Indama started last week as the Joint Task Force Basilan launched an all-out offensive against them.

Tan said based on reports from the ground that among those killed in the series of armed confrontations in Tipo-Tipo municipality were Julkifli Sariul and Kussien Pallam Seong.

Tan said among those wounded were Boy Indama, Abdul Karim, Hakim Jalul, Bong Assam, Albert Tuason and Gapul Melling. The identities of other personalities are still for validation.

Meanwhile, among the casualties in the province of Sulu identified by troops based on intelligence reports were ASG brigands Sabtola Mahalli, Mallah Sangkula, and Bas Sariyul.

Tan said that Sangkula and Mahalli, who are followers of Abu Sayyaf Sub-Leader Basaron Arok, were killed in an encounter with troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Maligay, Patikul on Wednesday last week.

He said Mahalli had a standing warrant of arrest for involvement in the kidnapping of ABS-CBN reporter Ces Drilon in 2008 and Nelson Lim of the Mega Fishing company.

Sariyul was killed on Thursday last week in an encounter with troops of the 45th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Buhanginan, Patikul.

Tan said the focused military operations are intensified, in coordination with the police and the local governments of the provinces of Basilan and Sulu, to neutralize the ASG brigands. (PNA)

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