Monday, September 21, 2020

Fighting erupts in Sulu, 3 soldiers wounded

SULU – Three soldiers were wounded in a clash with pro-ISIS Abu Sayyaf fighters in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, security officials said Monday.

Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Bungkaong in Patikul town, a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, where members of the 45th Infantry Battalion are operating.

Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, commander of the anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu, said the weekend fighting lasted 45 minutes.

He said troops fought over a dozen gunmen, but it was not immediately known if there were casualties on the side of the Abu Sayyaf, blamed by the military and police as behind the spate of deadly terror attacks in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region.

“Three of our soldiers were slightly wounded in the encounter and we pray for their fast recovery,” Gonzales said, adding, “The casualties on the enemy side are yet to be determined.”

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the operations against the Abu Sayyaf are going and troops were told to destroy the terrorist group. “We sustain our focused military operations to destroy enemy strongholds and to thwart terror plots of the local terrorist group,” he said.

Vinluan also called on the public to pray for the safety of the soldiers battling the terrorists. “We call on our prayer warriors to continuously pray for the safety and protection of our soldiers,” he said.

Thousands of soldiers and policemen are deployed in Sulu where foreign terrorists are fighting alongside the Abu Sayyaf in an effort to put an ISIS caliphate in the province.

On Saturday night, a patrolling team from the Philippine Coast Guard discovered an improvised bomb near the headquarters of the Maritime Police and the office of the Harbor Master.

Members of the police bomb squad disarmed the explosive which was assembled from a rifle grenade and packed with concrete nails attached to a pair of blasting caps and a spark plug.

Last month, two women - one of them an Indonesian militant - blew themselves near a military truck and killed several soldiers and civilians, and left scores of villagers wounded in what the military claimed was the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf, whose leaders pledged allegiance to ISIS.  The notorious group claimed responsibility for the blasts. (Mindanao Examiner)

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