11 Apr 18 Dead While At Least 53 Other Soldiers Wounded During Battle With The Abu Sayyafs
The Philippines just commemorated its 74th Day of Valor on Saturday, remembering Filipino veterans who died on World War II, when Filipino soldiers battled with the Abu Sayyafs in the hinterlands bordering the towns of Tipo-Tipo and Al-Barka in Basilan island. The said battle lasted for nine hours leaving 18 dead and at least 53 soldiers wounded, and for the record, it is the largest single-day combat loss suffered by the Philippine military so far this year 2016.
The deployment of government forces towards the south was for the goal of capturing or killing Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon who has publicly pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State group, hunted for years already due to his alleged involvement in several terrorist attacks.
An amount of $5 million was an offered reward from the Washington for the information leading to the capture and prosecution of Abu Sayyaf’s commander Hapilon.
Armed with M203 grenade launchers, the Abu Sayyaf militants managed to reinforce their ranks swiftly as the battle went on gathering between 100 and 150 fighters inflicting heavy casualties on troops of the government.
On the side of the Abu Sayyaf, five of their members were dead including a Moroccan fighter identified as Mohammad Khattab and a son of Hapilon, while 20 other gunmen were wounded. .
The said brutal group has been blamed for the rise of kidnappings for ransom cases in the past few weeks. That includes the separate abductions of four Malaysian crew member off Malaysia’s Sabah stat on Borneo Island and 10 Indonesian tugboat crewmen near southern Tawi-Tawi province.
And on Friday, former Italian missionary Rolando del Torchio was freed by the Abu Sayyaf after six months of jungle captivity on Jolo Island in Sulu. Meanwhile, the militants are believed to be holding 18 foreigners, including two Canadians and a Norwegian, and 3 Filipinos as jungle captives in Jolo Island.