Troops, Abu Sayyaf clash in Basilan

Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — Government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits led by an associate of Isnilon Hapilon Friday, the military said.

Col. Gerry Besana, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, said no one was wounded among the troops while the bandits,  led by Basilan-based ASG leader Puruji Indama, were believed to have suffered casualties.

Indama was a known associate of Hapilon, the self-declared emir of the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria in Southeast Asia, who was killed in government offensives during the siege on Marawi City by Islamic militants in 2017.

Citing the report from the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade, Besana said the firefight happened around 10:30 a.m. Friday in Sitio Forestal, Barangay Kamamburingan, Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan province.

Backed by Scout Rangers, Besana said the troops under the 18th Infantry Battalion were on security patrol when they chanced upon Indama’s group. The firefight lasted for about 30 minutes.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Westmincom chief, said Indama’s group “is trying to reorganize but it is assured that we will not allow them to do so.”

“Intensified operations are currently being conducted to pursue the fleeing bandits,” dela Vega added. (PNA)

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