ZAMBOANGA CITY: Marines clashed with Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Tuesday, killing five of the bandits on Capual Island off Sulu province in southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said soldiers also captured one terrorist and recovered at least eight automatic rifles in the village of Talok Talok.
Troops had been sent to the area to pursue about three dozen bandits under Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Alhabsy Misaya, who managed to flee from the fighting, according to Army Capt. Jo-ann Petinglay, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.
“We have recovered the bodies of the slain Abu Sayyaf members and captured one of them alive. The operations are continuing in the area,” she said.
Petinglay added that the fighting lasted about 20 minutes and that civilians had tipped off the military on the presence of the Abu Sayyaf on the island.
“There are no casualties on our side,” she said.
The troops were also searching the island for kidnapped sailors that the Abu Sayyaf had taken from Sabah in Malaysia last year.
“The military continues to intensify the conduct of focused operations against the Abu Sayyaf in line with the no-let up campaign of President Duterte against kidnappings and other atrocities by the terrorist group,” Petinglay said.
Major General Carlito Galvez, the regional military chief, thanked the citizens and the local government for their support to the Armed Forces and assured officials that soldiers will uphold human rights in the campaign against the Abu Sayyaf.
“This operational success manifests the commitment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in fulfilling its mandate of bringing internal peace and security, and rest assured that we will continue to abide by the rules of engagement and contain the Abu Sayyaf group with the assistance of the local government and the community,” Galvez said.