ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants allied with the Islamic State raided Monday a village in Basilan province in the southern Philippines, killing at least 10 people before escaping to the hinterlands, government officials said.
They said more than three dozen civilians were also wounded in the daring attack in Tubigan in Maluso town. The raiders, numbering about 40, also torched houses and a day care center before escaping.
Some of the seriously wounded victims were evacuated to a hospital in Zamboanga City. There was no immediate statement from the military’s Western Mindanao Command, but security officials previously claimed that government operations against the Abu Sayyaf have weakened the notorious jihadist group.
The attack occurred a day after naval forces rescued a Vietnamese sailor — Do Trung Huiqe — kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf off Basilan in November 2016.
The sailor, a crew member of the cargo ship MV Royal 16, was rescued on Mataja Island off Hadji Muhtamad town just across Maluso by elements of Joint Task Force Basilan headed by Colonel Juvymax Uy through Naval Task Group Basilan and Naval Task Force 61 following “a special intelligence operation.”
“The intensified military offensives caused the Abu Sayyaf (members) to flee and opened a chance for rescue operations,” said Rear Admiral Rene Medina, the regional naval forces commander.
Medina did not give details of the rescue operation. The Vietnamese sailor was brought to a military hospital in Zamboanga City where he underwent medical check-up and debriefing.
It was unknown whether the rescue operation sparked off the Abu Sayyaf attack. The group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and vowed to pursue a caliphate in the restive region of 12 million people.