ONE Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member and one civilian volunteer were killed and several others were injured in fresh fighting that erupted on Friday morning in a remote jungle village in Talipao, Sullu, military officials said.
On the same day, government troops and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels clashed anew and resulted in the death of a soldier on Thursday afternoon in a remote village in South Cotabato, military reports said.
Col. Johriel Cenabre who commands the Second Marine Brigade said a group of civilian volunteers on three vehicles were ambushed by at least 30 ASG bandits at around 8:55 a.m. at Barangay Lungkiaban, Talipao, Sulu.
An hour-long firefight ensued in which one civilian volunteer and an ASG bandit identified as “Jul Asmin Sangkula” were killed. Six BPAT members and two marine troopers were also wounded.
Cenabre said the civilians were members of the Barangay Police Auxiliary Team (BPAT) of Talipao town and were on their way to another barangay to replace BPAT augmentation sent to run after the ASG.
Troops from the Second Marine Battalion Landing Team-2 (MBLT-2) were immediately sent to the area to reinforce troops that have engaged the ASG that withdrew to a different direction, he said.
The marine commander said their troops, the police and the BPAT are still conducting pursuit operations against the bandits.
Fighting between government troops and ASG bandits erupted last week after marine troops, the police and civilians launched an offensive against some 50 ASG spotted in the area.
Six bandits were killed and their leader, Yasser Ygasan, was reportedly wounded during the initial encounter that took place last Sunday in Brgy. Mabahay, Talipao, Sulu.
Initial reports on the Cotabato encounter said it occurred at around 2:20 p.m. on Thursday at the boundary of Barangay Ned and Sitio Lambatong, Barangay Lamfugon, Lake Cebu.
Captain Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesman, said troops of the army’s 27th Infantry Battalion were on security patrol at the said area when they chanced upon a group of NPA rebels.
The army officer said an encounter between their troops and rebels, who were believed to be an extortion unit, quickly ensued and caused the death of one of their men.
The name of the slain soldier in the firefight was withheld in the report pending notification of the next of his kin, the reports said.