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4 Abu Sayyafs under IS 'acting emir' killed in Sulu ops to rescue Indo hostages
Published on: Monday, December 09, 2019
By: Zam Yusa


One of Abu Sayyaf militants killed in Sulu (Photo: Westmincom).
Kota Kinabalu: Four Abu Sayyaf militants under the acting leader of the Islamic State terror group in the Philippines and one soldier were killed in a military operation in Sulu on Saturday to crush the militant group and rescue Indonesian hostages kidnapped from Lahad Datu waters in September this year.

The firefight took place at 1.40pm when troops of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and 12th Reconnaissance Company encountered 40 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Sitio Tambang, Barangay (Village) Kabbon Takas, Patikul.

A press release from the Philippine military’s Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said the group was under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Apart from the killings, the 30-minute firefight also resulted in wounding several other militants.

While scouring the encounter site, troops recovered one dead body believed to be the remains of one of the four slain militants, one M16 rifle and personal belongings of fleeing bandits.

“The spotted crumbs of human flesh and bloodstains in the encounter site are indicative of the ASG’s enormous casualties other than the cadaver recovered,” said Brig. Gen. Antonio Nafarrete, Commander of 1101st Brigade.

“Hence, we are very grateful for the information fed by civilians regarding the presence of armed bandits in their communities.”

Apart from the fallen soldier, the encounter resulted in nine troopers wounded.

The battle casualties were immediately brought to Camp Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital for medical attention.

A military officer said some components of the operation were deployed to rescue the Indonesian hostages.

“Part of the operation is to rescue the KVs [kidnap victims],” Westmincom spokesman Major Arvin Encinas told Daily Express on Sunday.

Joint-Task Force Sulu Commander Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan said the ASG has no safe place in Sulu as "peace-loving Tausugs are now active in reporting their presence."

“The ASG’s manoeuvring space is dwindling. Hence, they now have to surrender or be killed by our operating forces,” he said.

The Indonesians - Maharudin Lunani, 48, his son Muhammad Farhan, 27, and his nephew Samiun Maneu, 27 - were kidnapped by seven armed men while catching prawns in waters off Tambisan Island.

The hostages were taken to Sulu where they changed handlers, at least three of them, namely Apo Mike, Sibih Pisih and Salip Mura, who are on the Eastern Sabah Security Command’s (Esscom) wanted list, Daily Express reported earlier.

Pisih was later killed in operations in November, which Encinas told Daily Express had also been carried out to rescue the Indonesians.

Pisih was a sub-leader under leader Radullan Sahiron and Roger Sajih and was one of the original sub-leaders of the ASG before the group was split into Sahiron and Sawadjaan’s groups. 

Pisih was in charge of the ASG’s maritime kidnappings in the boundaries of Tawi-Tawi and Sabah, said Westmincom earlier.

Sawadjaan is also on Esscom’s wanted list and was identified as the “acting emir” of the Islamic State terror group in the Philippines in a 2018 report by the US Department of Defence.

In November, the Abu Sayyaf demanded RM2.45 million for the release of the three Indonesian fishermen in a video uploaded on Facebook.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed by Malaysian and Philippine authorities for previous kidnappings in the Sulu Sea, a maritime area shared by both nations.



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