THE military has been shelling positions of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan in southern Mindanao as the group tried to attack a barangay (village) whose residents reportedly resisted and engaged them in a firefight, a military official disclosed on Tuesday.
Maj. Filemon Tan, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Western Mindanao Command, said the military had yet to do a battle assessment as the pounding near Barangay Magkawa in Al-Barka, Basilan, continued on Tuesday.
“Ang ginawa nila [Abu Sayyaf] lumapit sila sa Barangay Magkawa, gusto nilang lusubin yung barangay e nag-resist yung tao so syempre dumepensa sila, alam mo naman sa Basilan, kahit yung mga taga- barangay may baril yan, so nagkabakbakan ngayon dyan, binakbakan nila, di dun na nag-umpisa yung fighting [What they did was they tried to attack Barangay Magkawa but the residents resisted to defend themselves. As you’ve known, in Basilan, the villagers are also armed, so there was a firefight],” Tan said.
The firefight, he added, exposed the positions of the bandit group to the military, which immediately attacked with artillery bunkers established by the ASG.
The AFP official said that at first, only the group of Furuji Indama, one of the leaders of the ASG, was sighted but later they allegedly joined forces with the group of Isnilon Hapilon, another leader of the terrorist group, who was recently reported to have been named head of terrorist groups in Southeast Asia by Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, the caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS.
“Maganda nga yun para sabay na silang mamatay dyan [That’s good so that they can die there together],” Tan added.
He explained that ground troops were yet to fully engage the ASG as they were waiting for the group to “weaken” as a result of the shelling.
As of Tuesday, there were no reports of casualties.