ZAMBOANGA CITY – Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan has reportedly succumbed to gunshot wounds he sustained in one of three fierce encounters with the military in Patikul, Sulu earlier this week.
Army 11th Division Commander in Sulu Maj. Gen Corelito Vinluan said they received reliable information that Sawadjaan died from the wounds he sustained in the encounters he and his men had with government soldiers in three different locations in the forested areas of Patikul in Sulu late last Monday, July 6.
Patikul is one of the largest and forested towns in Sulu province, and is known to be the hotbed of the ASG in the province.
Vinluan said the military was already validating the report, and will try to locate the site where Sawadjaan was reportedly buried by his nephew Mundi Sawadjaan and his followers.
According to Vinluan, Sawadjaan died Tuesday, before sundown and was buried before 2 p.m. the following day, Wednesday, July 8
Sawadjaan was reportedly seriously wounded in the gun battle with soldiers in Sitio Bakud Uwak, Barangay Tanum in Patikul.
The military recorded three consecutive encounters with the terrorists, led by ASG leaders Radulan Sahiron and Sawadjaan in Patikul from 3:55 p.m. until 5:06 p.m. last Monday.
The first encounter took place in Sitio Libug Wani, Barangay Bakung for 30 minutes, followed by another 30-minute encounter in Sitio Lumbaan, Barangay Buhanginan, and an hour later in Sitio Bakud Uwak, Barangay Tanum late Monday afternoon, July 6.
The military was able to recover the bodies of five slain ASG fighters at the encounter site, and saw several blood stains which bolstered their suspicion that many bandits were wounded in the three encounters
Two soldiers were wounded in the skirmishes. They were identified as Staff Sargent Ramonito Q. Diapolet and Corporal Maynard D. Cabote.
During the encounter, enemy positions were bombarded with several 82mm rounds mortars, while two MG helicopters provided aerial support to the ground troops.