Four camps of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have fallen into government hands since the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) started its offensives against the ASG, the communist new People’s Army (NPA) and other threat groups early this month, according to the military.
Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc , AFP Public Affairs Office chief, said the latest encounter took place on Thursday in the village of Mat-i in Surigao City (Surigao) in Mindanao in southern Philippines between the 30th Infantry Battalion and 15 NPA rebels who were allegedly extorting money from residents.
According to Cabunoc, the clash had lasted about 15 minutes before the bandits fled with their wounded comrades but left behind two M16 rifles and one M203 grenade launcher.
The military also launched an offensive against communist guerillas who had abducted three policemen in the Caraga region late last year after a ceasefire that they had unilaterally declared ended on January 20.
In Bukidnon and also in Surigao City, suspected NPA fighters were believed to be behind the torching of a banana processor and cutting down of 700 banana plants and carting away of a shot gun and a radio owned by Dole Philippines in Lilingayon barangay (village), Valencia City in Bukidnon.
Communist rebels were also the suspects behind the burning of two dump trucks, two backhoes and a payloader owned by a mining firm in Barangay Mabini, Surigao City.
Cabunoc said government troops engaged the NPA rebels at Barangay Mat-I, resulting in recovery of three high-powered firearms and five improvised bombs.
Over in Basilan province, he added, a military operation was also ongoing against ASG rebels who had lobbed an improvised bomb at an armored personnel carrier during clashes in Barangay Pamaggsaken and Barangay Baiwas in Sumisip town that forced the rebels to abandon the four camps.
Cabunoc said pursuit operations against the ASG and the NPA had been ordered by Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero, Western Mindanao Command chief.