A soldier of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers got killed while three others were injured in a clash with Abu Sayyaf members in Sumisip, Basilan, military officials said Friday.

Colonel Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s Joint Task Force Basilan, said the clash resulted from an operation aimed at stopping the bandits from making improvised explosive devices (IED) in their mountainous lair.

“There was information about training in IED making, na-confirm na namin na marami nang inakyat na materials for IED making tapos biglang dumami ‘yung Abu Sayyaf dun,” Visaya told reporters.

Lieutenant Col. Randolph Cabangbang, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said members of the 12th Scout Ranger Company (12th SRC) and policemen were sent to Sitio Bohe Piyat, Brgy. Baiwas, on Thursday, and were engaged in a gunbattle by Abu Sayaff men under Khair Mundos and Furuji Indama around 11 a.m.

The operation, supported by attack helicopters and artillery, was also initiated to effect the arrest warrants of Mundos and Indama, who are both wanted for crimes ranging from murder to kidnapping, Cabangbang said.

However, as members of the 12th SRC were scouring the area for IEDs around 4:50 p.m., members of the 10th Scout Ranger Company who were conducting support operations encountered an undetermined number of bandits, Cabangbang said.

Initially, four soldiers were wounded in the clash and were airlifted via night-capable Huey helicopters to Zamboanga City.

Three of the injured, who only suffered minor wounds, arrived at the Camp Navarro General Hospital around 7 p.m.

The seriously wounded soldier was brought to Cudad Zamboanga Hospital but was declared dead on arrival by doctors, Cabangbang said. (John Roson)

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