A soldier was killed while eight others were wounded, with two of them in critical condition, when a landmine planted by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and reportedly assisted by a member of the terrorist group Jema’ah Islamiyah (JI), went off and hit a military vehicle in Basilan on Tuesday.
Lt. Col. John Paolo Perez, Philippine Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion commander, said the attack happened at around 8:05 am while the soldiers were on a clearing operation as part of route security for personnel who are going to the market.
After reaching the boundary of Tipo Tipo and al-Barka, the landmine exploded.
Perez said a brief firefight ensued as the soldiers pursued the bandits who detonated the landmine.
The pursuit operation was halted because the ASG members numbering about 10 passed through the area of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is presently talking peace with the government.
“Humabol kami up to a point lang kasi pumasok sila sa MILF area, so nagcocoordinate pa kami ngayon sa MILF. Umatras sila sa Baguindan area (We pursued them up to a point only, because they went to an MILF area. So, we are coordinating with the MILF. They retreated towards Baguindan area),” said Perez.
As for the involvement of a Malaysian member of JI in the attack, Perez said that based on particles recovered, they were similar with the ones the military found in Mohammad Ajul in Tuburan proper in Basilan that was made by the Asian terrorist.
Perez was referring to the 76 improvised explosives device recovered by the military in Tuburan on April 11, 2015.
The military has yet to release the identities of the dead and wounded soldiers pending notification of their families.