Suspected ASG member killed in encounter in Sulu

Published January 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Aaron Recuenco 

Government forces killed a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group who was tagged as among those who abducted eight Indonesian fishermen in Sabah, Malaysia, a military official said Sunday.

Major General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Philippine Army's 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and Joint Task Force (JTF) Central (photo courtesy of wikipedia / MANILA BULLETIN)
Lt. General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and Joint Task Force (JTF) Central (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia / MANILA BULLETIN)

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command, said the operation near the Sulare Island in Parang town of Sulu also resulted in the destruction of the speedboat used in the kidnapping in Lahad Datu in Sabah on Thursday.

Sobejana said he immediately deployed his men in areas where the ASG could dock after Malaysian authorities informed him about the kidnapping.

“We immediately deployed gunboats and air reconnaissance near the boundary (Philippines and Malaysia),” said Sobejana.

On Saturday morning, soldiers chanced upon the ASG men which resulted in a brief clash. The slain ASG was identified by three fishermen as among the six armed men who abducted them.

It was learned that eight Indonesian fishermen employed by a Malaysian fishing company were earlier taken, but three of them were freed later. They were the ones who reported the incident to the Malaysian authorities.

The three freed fishermen also confirmed that the twin-engine speedboat which was damaged during the operation was the one used in the abduction.

Sobejana, however, said that there was no sighting of the five remaining kidnapped fishermen.

“But there is a likelihood that the five victims are already in Sulare Island or in Parang. That is where our operation is focused,” said Sobejana.

“Hopefully, we would be able to rescue these five Indonesian nationals,” he added.

Sobejana said his men also killed four armed men in Lakit-lakit Island in Sapa-Sapa, Tawi-Tawi in a separate operation on Saturday night. A soldier was wounded in the same operation.

“We are still trying to determine if these four are Abu Sayyaf members,” said Sobejana.