ZAMBOANGA CITY: Government troops killed a Malaysian militant and captured the camp of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) during weekend assaults.
Maj. Filemon Tan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) said hundreds of army troops and pro-government militias launched the weekend assault against the ASG in Sitio Buhe Buug, village of Macalang in Al-Barka town, a known stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) where they captured the ASG camp.
A small team of MILF members led by Pulon Kulalul also joined the army in fighting the Abu Sayyaf. Two militias – Allahero Ujajin and Sarip Alista – were injured in the encounter after they tripped on an Abu Sayyaf landmine.
Troops recovered the body of the slain militant, but his name was not immediately made available by the military except saying that he was a Malaysian national fighting alongside the Abu Sayyaf.
At least six improvised explosive devices were also recovered from the encampment in Sitio Buhe Buug.
Tan said the weekend operation was carried out by Charlie Company of Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion, the MILF and some 200 members of Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) of the towns of Al-Barka, Sumisip, Tuburan and Akbar.
It was the second time that security forces killed a Malaysian militant in the province. In December last year, military forces also killed a Malaysian bomb expert – Mohammad Hussein – during clashes with the Abu Sayyaf also in Macalang village.
On March 25, government troops also killed Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Eric Ajibun and one of his followers in fierce clashes that left five soldiers and two militias wounded in Al-Barka town.
Ajibun is said to be an expert in making improvised explosive device (IED) and has been responsible in the series of bombings against government forces and business establishments in Basilan.
Troops launched an operation dubbed “Oplan Urgent Fury 2” against the Abu Sayyaf following deadly clashes between the MILF and the jihadist group on March 23 that killed Haipa Isnilon, son of a key Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
The restive province of Basilan has become the bastion of power by the Abu Sayyaf after it pledged allegiance anew to the caliph of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and named new leaders aligned with the international Islamic extremist group.