ZAMBOANGA CITY: Abu Sayyaf terrorists allied with the Islamic State on Monday raided a village in Basilan province in southern Philippines and killed at least 10 people before escaping, government officials said.
It said more than three dozen civilians were also wounded in the daring attack in the village called Tubigan in Maluso town. The raiders, numbering about 40, torched houses and a day care center before escaping.
Some of the seriously wounded victims were evacuated to 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 last year.
“This is an act of terrorism and cowardice. When our forces engaged them in a 45-minute firefight and they felt our numbers and volume of fire they backed away and fled,” local police chief John Cundo said.
“What is unfortunate is that women and children were affected as they were still sleeping when this happened.”
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network.
Its members have engaged in banditry and kidnapping, targeting foreigners in exchange for millions of dollars in ransom.
One faction based on Basilan has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.
It is not clear whether that faction was involved in Monday’s attack on Maluso, although its members are among militants who have been occupying since May parts of Marawi, the largely Catholic nation’s most important Islamic city.
The militants have withstood a US-backed military offensive in Marawi that has claimed more than 700 lives and displaced nearly 400,000 people.
Following Monday’s attack, residents evacuated their homes in fear and authorities sent more troops to secure the area, according to Cundo.
The Abu Sayyaf had launched similar attacks on the town in previous years, Cundo added.