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Philippines: 8 Abu Sayyaf, 1 soldier killed in Sulu clash

31st Dec 2015
Philippines: 8 Abu Sayyaf, 1 soldier killed in Sulu clash
By Hader Glang

 

ZAMBOANGA CITY,  (AA): At least eight members of an al-Qaeda-linked group and one Philippine soldier were killed in a clash Wednesday afternoon in the troubled southern island province of Sulu, according to the military.

Maj. Felimon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, confirmed in a text message that seven other Abu Sayyaf fighters and four government troops were also injured in the encounter in Patikul town.

“Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion special operation task group were on patrol when they encountered a group of some 100 Abu Sayyaf militants under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Sangay,” he added.

​According​ to Tan, the number of reported casualties on the Abu Sayyaf side was based on soldiers’ accounts as the bodies had been taken away by their retreating comrades​.​

Operations in pursuit of the group were ongoing as of press time.

Sawadjaan has been blamed by authorities for the beheading of a Malaysian hostage in Sulu last month.

Military operations against the group were intensified in late November upon the orders of President Benigno Aquino III.

The directive came after ​Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called upon authorities to take action after the beheading of the Malaysian national kidnapped from a seaside town in the country.

The Abu Sayyaf is still holding captives several captives, including two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipina kidnapped from a resort in September for whose release its has demanded a ransom of more than $60 million.

Since 1991, the group — armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles — has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.

It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.

[Photo:Marine soldiers with anti aircraft guns. Photo: Stringer/AA]

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