The military chief in Western Mindanao maintained that top Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Abu Sayyaf leaders got killed in Thursday’s air strike in Parang, Sulu, despite finding no bodies.

Major Gen. Noel Coballes, AFP Westmincom chief, even ordered troops to prepare for a possible retaliation of terrorists as a consequence of their leaders’ death.

In a phone interview Friday, Coballes admitted that troops have yet to recover bodies of any of the 15 JI and Abu Sayyaf members he claimed were killed.

He, however, insisted that Marwan, considered as the JI’s top leader in the country, was killed along with Singaporean operative Muawiyah and Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Umbra Jumdail alias Dr. Abu.

“Kasama sila sa namatay. (Pero) hindi natin ma-retrieve e, that’s now the subject of our focus, to retrieve,” Coballes told reporters.

Other JI and Abu Sayyaf members who were in the encampment in Brgy. Duyan Kabao during the early morning air raid might have taken some of the bodies away, according to the official.

However, he said police who entered the area after the assault found “body parts” that might have belonged to the fatalities.

But Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director, told said in a separate phone interview that they are still waiting for the military’s report on the fatalities as of Friday noon.

“Hindi pa kami makapagsalita diyan dahil hindi pa nagsusubmit ng report ang AFP,” Latag said.

Meanwhile, Coballes said he alerted troops for a possible retaliation of other units of the Abu Sayyaf in Western Mindanao.

“We have already prepared for any probable retaliation… we’ve alerted all our troops with regard to that, even before the execution of the plan,” he said. “We are already doing our (preparation) for the probable targets.” (John Roson)

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