The alleged cousin of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bomb expert Mundi Sawadjaan was reportedly killed in an armed encounter with the military in Patikul, Sulu on Monday morning.
Brigadier General William Gonzales, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, identified the slain ASG suspect as Arsibar Sawadjaan, a sub-leader and a bomb maker.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Ruben Guinolbay, 45IB commander, said reinforcements were deployed to track the fleeing bandits.
“The enemies possibly incurred more casualties as evident in the bloodstains in the encounter site,” Guinolbay stated.
On the other hand, no casualty was recorded on the side of the government forces.
A military report said elements of the 45th Infantry Battalion (45IB) were conducting security operations in Barangay Maligay when they were fired upon by about 30 to 40 armed men around 9 a.m.
This, after the soldiers received a tip from concerned citizens who spotted the armed men in the hinterlands of Patikul, which is a known stronghold of the ASG.
Gonzalez said the heavy firefight between the military and ASG lasted for 50 minutes before the enemies withdrew towards the east direction of the village.
Gonzales believed that the armed men were part of the groups of Mundi and ASG leader Radullan Sahiron, which the military has been hunting ever since they allegedly masterminded the twin bombings in Indanan, Sulu last August 24 that killed 17 people, including two suicide bombers.
Last week, the military also seized a lair of Mundi’s group in Sulu, which, it said, was an indicator that the troops were closing in on the notorious bomb maker.
Since September 20, at least eight members from Mundi’s group and two from Sahiron’s have surrendered after feeling the intense pressure of the military’s offensives.
“We degraded the terrorists’ manpower and capability to carryout their hostile plans and we continue to sustain the momentum to constrict their movements,” Gonzales said.
Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom), lauded the achievement of the 45IB with the death of Arsibar.
“We, at the armed forces, are maximizing our capabilities to address the different security challenges in our area of operation,” Vinluan said.