Troops Hunt Sayyaf In Basilan IslandDecember 19, 2007 at 11:54 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 19, 2007) – Security forces on Wednesday searched for Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the killing of two soldiers in the southern Filipino province of Basilan, officials said.
Officials said two soldiers were killed and five more wounded in four hours of fighting in the town of Ungkaya Pukan on Tuesday, where gunmen fired on a helicopter transporting US soldiers on Basilan.
“There is an operation going on,” Major Eugene Batara, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
He said an undetermined number of militants were believed killed in the fighting. “We don’t have body counts but we believed many gunmen were either killed of wounded in the clash,” he said.
The town’s mayor Joel Maturan said militants, backed by rogue members of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, aided the Abu Sayyaf in attacking marines in the area.
“The Abu Sayyaf and the lost-command group of the MILF attacked the marines and fighting was really intense,” he said.
It was unknown how many villagers have fled the town for fear that the fighting would escalate into a bigger war.
On Tuesday, gunmen straffed a helicopter carrying American soldiers near the town. A small contingent of US troops are deployed in Basilan to aide Filipino troops in defeating the Abu Sayyaf, tagged as international terrorist group by Washington. (Mindanao Examiner)