ZAMBOANGA CITY – Government troops killed an Abu Sayyaf rebel in a clash in Basilan, army officials said Sunday.
Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Sapah Bulak in Sumisip town where soldiers and pro-government militias were escorting rubber plantation workers.
“The rebels attacked the soldiers, triggering the fighting that killed Omar Akbar Suwaire,” Capt. Jefferson Somera, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division, told The Manila Times.
He said troops recovered the body of the slain rebel and his weapon – an automatic rifle with a grenade launcher.
Somera, quoting a report from Lt. Col. Leonardo Dacumos, commander of the 64th Infantry Battalion, said the clash lasted over 10 minutes and the rebels fled only to attack again after an hour and sparking a fierce battle.
He said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen tried but failed to retrieve the body of their slain comrade.
“No one was injured or killed in the fighting on the part of the military or the civilians,” Somera said, adding Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, the regional army commander, ordered troops to pursue the attackers.
“General Trinidad has ordered the army forces in Basilan to track down the Abu Sayyaf and intensify intelligence operation in the province to prevent similar attacks,” he said.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small but the most notorious extremist group involved in terrorism and kidnappings for ransom and extortion and operating mostly in Basilan and Sulu provinces, which are all part of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao. AL JACINTO