An Abu Sayyaf member and a government soldier were killed while at least two other bandits and one trooper were injured in a clash in Sumisip, Basilan, early Friday, the military said.

Killed were one soldier and an Abu Sayyaf member identified as Samir Balaman, said Lieutenant Colonel Eliglen Villaflor, commander of the Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion (4th SFB).

Elements of the 4th SFB were conducting operations 7:50 a.m. Friday when they encountered Abu Sayyaf members led by Pasil Bayali and Radzmil Janatul in Sitio Penas, Brgy. Upper Benengbengan, Villaflor said in a statement.

The bandits, numbering around 15, engaged troopers in a 15-minute firefight before they withdrew, Lieutenant Sally Christine Magno, Armed Forces Joint Task Group-Basilan spokesperson, said in a text message.

Two soldiers were initially wounded in the fighting.

“One is now in stable condition while the other perished during medical evacuation,” Villaflor said. He declined to name the two until their families are informed.

Villaflor said several Abu Sayyaf members were wounded. Magno said field reports indicated that at least two bandits were hurt.

The clash occurred a week after suspected Abu Sayyaf members detonated an improvised bomb at the boundary of nearby Tipo-Tipo and Ungkaya Pukan towns on Aug. 7, killing two soldiers.

Both casualties were part of a team tasked to provide route security for military convoys and commuters passing the area, according to the AFP Joint Task Force Zambasulta.

Bayali and Janatul’s group is responsible for the recent IED attacks which targetted military troops and civillian construction companies along the Basilan Circumfirential Road, as well as the destruction of the Maluso Water System which had left local residents waterless for three days at the start of Ramadan, Villaflor said.

Combat operations are being conducted to “clear Sumisip of Abu Sayyaf presence, which has been hampering socio-economic activities and threatening lives,” Magno said.

Troops have been sent to pursue the bandits who were encountered Friday, she said. (John Roson)

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