14 Killed In Fresh Sayyaf Clashes In South RP

October 2, 2007 at 3:43 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao / Oct. 02, 2007) – Filipino troops clashed Tuesday with Abu Sayyaf militants, leaving 14 people dead, near Basilan island in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said.

Commandos raided a small island called Langhil before dawn and killed ten militants, but four soldiers were also slain in the fighting that lasted 35 minutes. “Ten Abu Sayyaf terrorists are killed in the fighting today. Four of soldiers are also dead,” Army Maj. Eugene Batara told the Mindanao Examiner.

He said two more soldiers were wounded in the clash. He said troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants under brothers Abdurajak and Faizal Sadikal. It was unknown whether the duo escaped or among the dead.

“We still don’t know whether the two leaders are killed or wounded or have escaped. The operation is going and security forces are tracking down the terrorists,” he said.

The two wounded soldiers were airlifted to a military hospital in Zamboanga City.

The fighting broke out a day after US Ambassador Kristie Kenney inspected infrastructure projects funded by the United States Agency for International Development in Basilan island.

Last month, the US deployed a small team of soldiers on the island to help the Filipino military fight terrorism after Abu Sayyaf militants killed and wounded dozens of local soldiers in separate attacks over the past months.

Basilan island was a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf until Filipino troops, backed by US forces, drove them away in 2001. Since then, dozens of Abu Sayyaf militants had been killed and wounded and their supporters arrested in a massive crackdown against terrorism.

But the Abu Sayyaf slowly returned over the years after the government failed to address increasing poverty on the island and the military’s failure to carry out a continued campaign against the group.

Local politicians, many of them always out of their office, also failed to help authorities in the campaign to defeat the Abu Sayyaf, blamed for the spate of killings and kidnappings in the southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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