Soldiers foil Abu Sayyaf attempt to harass Basilan villagers

Roel Pareño, John Unson - Philstar.com
Soldiers foil Abu Sayyaf attempt to harass Basilan villagers
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COTABATO CITY, Philippines —  Soldiers on Saturday foiled an attempt by followers of the slain top Basilan Abu Sayyaf leader Radjmil Jannatul to harass villagers to project strength following his death at the hands of soldiers two weeks ago.

Personnel of the Army's 64th Infantry Battalion managed to drive the nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen away following a series of brief clashes early Saturday in Barangay Sucaten in Sumisip, Basilan.

"The remaining members of the terror group who refuse to return to the fold of the law are doing desperate moves to gain popular support after they've lost it due to the neutralization of their top leader Radzmil Jannatul, a.k.a. Khubayb, who was killed during an encounter with Army troops last March 26," Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said.

Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan (JTFB) and the 101st Infantry Brigade, said the troops under his command came into contact with at lease nine Abu Sayyaf followers under sub-leader Pasil Bayali early Saturday morning.

He said the Abu Sayyaf members fled the scene of the clash, "[h]owever, the troops on pursuit caught up the terrorists while fleeing which led to another armed confrontation."

Gobway confirmed at least four soldiers were also wounded during the firefight and were immediately evacuated for treatment at the military hospital.

He said the wounded soldiers were all described to be in stable condition.

Lt. Col. Reynan Besa, commanding officer of the 64th Infantry Battalion, said the few remaining followers of Jannatul were out to create an impression that they remain capable of pulling off terror attacks despite his demise.

Jannatul, the last leader of the now markedly moribund Abu Sayyaf terror group in Basilan, was killed by personnel of units under the 101st Infantry Brigade in a brief encounter in Barangay Baiwas, Sumisip.




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