The death toll in Friday morning’s clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) brigands and military units at the boundaries of Unkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo towns, Basilan has now climbed to 12.
Capt. Jefferson Mamauag, 1st Infantry Division spokesperson, said that this can be broken down into 10 for the brigands and two for government security forces.
Wounded in the encounter were 28 soldiers with the ASG sustaining an undetermined number of injured.
The wounded troopers are now being treated at Camp Navarro Station Hospital in Zamboanga City.
The firefight broke out around 2:25 a.m. after the military encountered ASG men under Puruji Indama, Isnilon Hapilon and Nur Hassan Jamiri in Sitio Pansul, Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo town.
Mamauag said that they are still waiting for reports on ground units involved in the fighting regarding the identities of the slain brigands.
Joint elements of the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion, Joint Special Operations Unit 2 (JSOU2), and 18th Infantry Battalion were conducting operations to arrest Indama when they engaged the al Qaeda-linked Islamic militants.
The operation was launched in response to reports Indama’s group threatened and tried to extort P5 million from the contractor of the ongoing Magkawa-Al Barka Road project in the province.
The ASG commander has also been blamed for numerous kidnappings for ransom and terrorist attacks in the Southern Philippines.
Among their victims include former Australian Army soldier Warren Rodwell who was seized December 2011 and released in March 2013.
The military also believed that Indama commanded the beheading of 10 Marines in Basilan in 2007, an ASG attack on Isabela City in April 2010 that left 13 people dead, and the ambush and killing of 19 Amy Special Forces troops in Al-Barka in October 2011. (PNA)