15 Marines Killed In Southern Philippine Island

August 18, 2007 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 18 Aug) – At least 15 soldiers and dozens of Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed in fierce fighting Saturday in the southern Philippine island of Basilan, officials said.

As many as 17 soldiers were also wounded in the fighting that erupted in the remote town of Ungkaya Pukan after security forces assaulted an Abu Sayyaf encampment, military officials in Zamboanga City said.

Five of those killed were marine officers.

Troops recovered 7 bodies of militants, including that of Puruji Indama who was believed involved in the beheading of 10 Marines in firefight July 10 in Basilan’s Al-Barka town.

Other reports said as many as 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed, but this could not be independently confirmed.

Maj. Eugene Batara, a regional military spokesman, said there could be more enemy casualties, but the Abu Sayyaf may have taken away their dead.

The fighting was so intense that soldiers fought the Abu Sayyaf in close-quarter battle.

The slain soldiers were under the Joint Task Force Thunder, tasked to pursue the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels implicated in the beheading of soldiers in Al-Barka.

Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, fled to Basilan island to oversee the operation against the Abu Sayyaf.

The Philippine military is fighting two fronts in the troubled south, one in Basilan island and another in Jolo island, where 27 soldiers were also killed by Abu Sayyaf gunmen and Moro National Liberation Front insurgents in fighting last week.

President Gloria Arroyo last month ordered security forces to intensify the hunt for the Abu Sayyaf and insurgents in Basilan and Jolo islands. (Mindanao Examiner)

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