Tag Archive: Abu Sayyaf


Three foreigners abducted by alleged Abu Sayyaf members on Samal Island, Davao del Norte, appeared in another video, calling on authorities to help save their lives by meeting their captors’ demands.

The 1 minute and 38-second video, posted on a Facebook page called “Pamantasan Ng Tawheed At Jihaad Filibin” Thursday morning showed Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, Norweigian Kjartan Sekkingstad, and a woman believed to be Filipina Marites Flor, sitting in a jungle while being surrounded by gunmen.

With one captor holding a bolo against his neck, Ridsdel appealed to the Canadian prime minister and other Canadians to meet the hostage-takers’ demands.

“Please do what’s needed to meet their demands within one month or they will kill me and they will execute us,” he said.

Hall said they are being held by the Abu Sayyaf for an amount of ransom unknown to him, and the Canadian government should act to get them out soon.

“We got one month before this happens,” he said.

Sekkingstad said he and his fellow hostages are being held by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu.

“Follow negotiations and try to meet their demand within 30 days or we are all dead,” he said.

The woman believed to be Flor did not speak in the video, where the faces of almost all captors — including the one that held a bolo against Ridsdel’s neck — were seen.

One hostage-taker, who was wearing a black balaclava and sunglasses, spoke for the gunmen.

“We will give a warning for one month preparation for the family to meet the demand. Once you step… the negotiation within one month starting today, March 8, 2016 until April 8, 2016. Then, if you think that your policy is far better for you than the lives of the captives, certainly we will do something terrible against these captives,” he said.

A previous video clip showing Ridsdel, Hall, Sekkingstad, Flor and their captors appeared in the Internet last November, barely two months after they were seized in Samal September 21.

Sought for comment on the new video, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said authorities have yet to determine its “authenticity.”

“Dinulog po natin itong material na ito, itong video na ‘to, sa tanggapan ng ating mga forensic experts at antayin po muna natin ang kanilang ilalahad at ang kanilang mahahanap upang ma-authenticate natin nang ganap,” Padilla told reporters.

He admitted that threats made by the hostage-takers are “serious” and said operations were ongoing to rescue the captives.

“‘Yan po ang ating isinasagawa, di po nagbabago ‘yan, at karamihan po ng ating mga naisagawa nang activities ay nakatuon ang pansin sa, hopefully, pag-rescue sa mga nasabing bihag,” Padilla said.

Last month, the head of the police’s anti-kidnapping unit confirmed that Abu Sayyaf members are holding the four people kidnapped in Samal.

Senior Superintendent Roberto Fajardo, director of the PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group, also confirmed that members of the al Qaeda-linked group are asking P1 billion in exchange for the captives.

Meanwhile, Padilla called on the public to be more “discerning” on what they see and share on social media.

“Maaaring sila ay nagiging bahagi na ng paninira na ginagawa ng mga grupong ito nang di nila nalalaman… Maging mapanuri at maging maingat sa inyong tinitingnan sa social media para di po kayo nagiging bahagi ng isang propaganda,” he said. (John Roson)

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Government troops seized two Abu Sayyaf encampments in Patikul, Sulu, after a clash with the bandits Thursday afternoon, the military said.

Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, Armed Forces Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said soldiers encountered about 30 Abu Sayyaf members in Sitio Mabusing, Brgy. Langhub, around 1 p.m.

Elements of the Army’s 10th Scout Ranger Company were conducting field military operations when the encountered the bandits led by Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Muammar Askali alis “Abu Rami,” Namel Ahajari alias “Namel Gapas,” and Arkam Udjaman alias “Isran,” he said.

A 15-minute firefight ensued, until the troops seized a temporary encampment that can accomodate 50 people, Arrojado said.

Soldiers found a rifle grenade, M16 magazine with 45 rounds of ammunition, and foodstuff at the camp.

No soldier was wounded while intelligence operatives reported that two Abu Sayyaf members were injured, Arrojado said.

Members of the 11th Scout Ranger Company operating nearby later found a larger encampment, he said.

The other camp has 18 fox holes and can accomodate 80 to 100 people, and is believed to be where the bandit group’s “main body” had positioned, Arrojado said. (John Roson)

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Two persons were injured when a grenade lobbed by still unidentified men exploded near the home of Sulu Vice Gov. Abdusakur Tan in Jolo Wednesday night, the military said.

Injured were Andel Aziz Asiri, 31, of Patikul, and Haidar Hasim, 28, of Brgy. Tulay, Jolo, said Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group Sulu.

The explosion occurred around 7:50 p.m. along Loay st., Brgy. Asturias.

It happened only about 150 meters from the home of Tan, who is running for governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the May 9 elections, a source said.

Authorities initially reported that an improvised explosive device went off, but Arrojado said a grenade’s safety lever was found later at the blast site.

Policemen cordoned the area and brought Asiri and Hasim to the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office for treatment.

Arrojado said investigators are looking at a claim that the grenade throwers were members of feuding clans in Talipao and unvalidated information that they were Abu Sayyaf.

Abu Sayyaf members are reportedly targetting civilians who give information to the military, he said.

Another security source said the blast “appears” to have something to do with Tan’s candidacy for ARMM governor. Tan is running as an independent against incumbent Gov. Mujiv Hataman and two others in the upcoming polls.

“Parang scenario eh, kasi kung target talaga ‘yung bahay, bakit hindi pa doon pinasabog? Pero hindi mo rin naman masabing ganun na nga, kasi hindi naman basta-basta makakahinto dun sa tapat ng bahay dahil may blue guards doon,” the source said. (John Roson)

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Two Coast Guard personnel abducted by the Abu Sayyaf escaped and have been found by government troops Thursday following a clash with the al Qaeda-linked group in Indanan, Sulu, the military said.

Soldiers found SN2 Gringo Villaruz in Brgy. Buanza around 7 a.m. and SN1 Rod Pagaling around 8:30 a.m., Captain Antonio Bulao, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group-Sulu, said.

“Villaruz was able to escape from his captors at the height of firefight,” Bulao said in a text message.

Both Villaruz and Pagaling were not injured but have been taken to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Trauma Hospital in Jolo for medical checks, he said.

The duo’s recovery came hours after troops battled about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by sub-commanders Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya in Brgy. Buanza.

Members of the Army’s elite Scout Rangers, backed by cannon fire, stormed a bandit lair in that barangay from 5:25 p.m. to 7 p.m. in an operation aimed at rescuing kidnap victims.

As much as 15 Abu Sayyaf men were reportedly killed in the clash though only five bodies have so far been recovered, according to a report from the task group.

Some of them were identified as Joy Juliyon, Arapat Bagadi, Majindi, Sarman Aidarud, Mandi, Arapat Hadjiri, Dunni Ammin, Salman Wahid, Majindi Kamlun, and Runni Said.

Abu Sayyaf members Abdel Dela Cruz, Sherwin Dela Cruz, Mawalil, Duni, Bidah, Lasis Jihili, and Kapatud Sarman were reportedly wounded.

Four members of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were slightly wounded, Bulao said.

They were identified as Pfcs. Elvin Bacalargio, Johnrie Melegrito, Johnzen Tagumpay, and Cpl. Earl Bompat.

Troops are still verifying information that Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Alden Bagadi was killed in the clash and have confirmed that his cousin Arafat died, Bulao said.

Villaruz and Pagaling were abducted along with Brgy. Aliguay chairman Rodolfo Buligao in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, last May 4.

Abu Sayyaf members threatened to behead the three if the P1-million ransom demand for each of them was not given.

Buligao’s severed head and body were found at a road junction in Maimbung town August 11.

Nine kidnap victims, four of whom are foreigners, remain in the hands of Abu Sayyaf members in different parts of Sulu after Villaruz and Pagaling’s recovery, Bulao said.

Villaruz and Pagaling had been spotted with 200 bandits and four other captives, three of whom have foreign-sounding surnames, three days before the assault in Indanan, according to a military report.

The foreign captives who had been with Villaruz and Pagaling are Malaysian and Korean nationals, Bulao said.

“Troops are still scouring areas around the clash site, looking for the other captives,” he said. (John Roson)

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As much as 17 Abu Sayyaf members were killed as government troops carried out back-to-back assaults on lairs of the al Qaeda-linked group in Basilan and Sulu provinces on Wednesday, the military said.

Up to 15 bandits were killed as troops encountered about 100 Abu Sayyaf members in Indanan town while trying to rescue kidnap victims, according to a report from the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group-Sulu.

Elements of the Army’s 1st Scout Ranger Battalion clashed with followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Yasser Igasan and Alhabsy Misaya in Brgy. Buanza 5:25 p.m., the task group said in a report.

Artillery rounds were fired to support the Rangers, while soldiers from the 35th Infantry Battalion, 2nd Marine Brigade, and 32nd Infantry Battalion were mobilized to prevent the Abu Sayyaf from sending reinforcements.

Fighting lasted until 7 p.m. and clearing operations are still underway, task group public affairs officer Captain Antonio Bulao said.

Five bodies and three firearms have so far been recovered. No casualties were reported among the troops.

A report reaching the military headquarters in Manila indicated that the bandits in Indanan were holding six captives, including three who have foreign-sounding surnames and two Coast Guard members.

Hours earlier, around 11 a.m., another clash broke out between soldiers and another band of Abu Sayyaf members in neighboring Basilan.

Troops were conducting combat operations when they encountered about 60 bandits in an Abu Sayyaf “stronghold” in Brgy. Baiwas, Sumisip, Joint Task Group-Basilan public affairs officer Lt. Sally Magno said.

Two Abu Sayyaf members and a soldier were killed, while another trooper and six more bandits were injured, she 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. (John Roson)

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Three civilians, two of them students, were injured as Abu Sayyaf members and village watchmen clashed near a school in Patikul, Sulu, Friday afternoon, the military said.

Injured were Nurhaida Jadja, 18, and Marni Suhuri, 17, both students of the Patikul National High School; and Hadji Anni Abubayong, 61, said Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group-Sulu.

All three were injured by shrapnel from M203 grenades fired by the Abu Sayyaf, with the students getting hit on the head and neck, Arrojado said in a text message.

The fighting erupted past 2 p.m. near the Patikul National High School in Brgy. Taglibi.

Minutes earlier, about 40 Abu Sayyaf members led by Muammar Askali alias “Abu Rami” set fire to an abandoned military detachment in that village, Arrojado said.

One Engineer Makapagal Tammang, who handles a road project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Brgy. Pandanun, then passed by Taglibi on a local councilor’s pick-up.

As Tammang neared the old detachment, gunmen flagged down the pick-up and tried to take Tammang by force, Arrojado said.

Firefight erupted when members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) escorting Tammang resisted, he said.

Fighting lasted for about 20 minutes. Other BPAT members reinforced their colleagues, then the Abu Sayyaf to withdrew towards Brgy. Kabuntakas via Brgy. Bakung.

No casualties were reported among the BPAT members and the Abu Sayyaf, while the injured civilians were brought to the Integrated Provincial Health Office, Arrojado said. (John Roson)

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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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Mount Tumantangis as seen from Jolo, Sulu (AFP JTG-Sulu photo)

Mount Tumantangis as seen from Jolo and Patikul, Sulu (AFP JTG-Sulu photo)

Fancy a trek to one of the Abu Sayyaf’s mountain playgrounds in Sulu? That’s in the pipeline.

Officials from different government agencies, backed by the military of course, are set to climb Bud Tumantangis, or Mount Tumantangis, on Saturday and Sunday with the aim of raising awareness for its conservation and, hopefully, promoting it as a tourist attraction.

Among those who will trek up are representatives of the Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Sulu provincial government, said Colonel Alan Arrojado, commander of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group Sulu.

Two Army and Marines battalions were earlier deployed around the mountain to ensure security, he said.

Tumantangis, which straddles the towns of Indanan and Patikul, is the highest peak in the Sulu archipelago at 2,661 feet (811.0728 meters).

The peak offers a view of the entire Sulu archipelago, neighboring Basilan, and sometimes, even the Zamboanga Peninsula.

“It’s the first thing you’ll see when coming to the province by sea, and the last thing when you leave… Maganda ang sunrise at sunset. ‘Pag clear ang sky, hanggang Zamboanga makikita mo,” Arrojado said.

Tumantangis also holds historical significance as the tomb-monument of Sharif ul-Hashim Abu Bakar — the first to hold the title of “sultan” in Sulu — is on the mountain.

People interested in wildlife can also find monkeys, locally called “mamak,” at Tumantangis.

This weekend’s trek will see government officials identify areas where trails, steps, and even “base camps” can be placed for future climbers to use, Arrojado said.

“Initiative ko ito, initiative namin, kasi kung nagagawa sa ibang bundok, sa Mount Apo (in Davao), sa Bongao peak (in Tawi-Tawi), sa Mount Pulag (in Northern Luzon), why not in Sulu? ‘Yun ang approach namin ngayon dito,” he said.

The tourism projects, however, are still being planned as, unlike frequently-climbed mountains in the country, Tumantangis has one stinging problem — the Abu Sayyaf.

Members of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, blamed for kidnappings, killings, and bombings, are known to roam around the mountain’s foothills.

“Hindi katulad ng Mount Apo na madalas akyatin, itong Tumantangis kahit ‘yung mga taga-dito mismo sa Jolo, hindi pa nila ito naaakyat. Wala pang nakakaakyat maliban siguro sa Abu Sayyaf,” Arrojado said.

Armed elements of the Moro National Liberation Front loyal to founding chairman Nur Misuari also have encampments at the slopes, particularly in Brgy. Kadday Langpas, Indanan.

Currently, the Abu Sayyaf still holds several captives, including Ewold Horn of the Netherlands — a birdwatcher snatched in the neighboring province of Tawi-Tawi in February 2012.

While the military says that Abu Sayyaf members were last seen at Tumantangis in 2007, the last reported instance of captives being held there was in 2008, when the bandits allegedly brought ABS-CBN television reporter Ces Drilon, two of her crew, and their professor guide to the mountain.

Tumantangis, which literally means “weeping,” did not get its name from the ordeal that Abu Sayyaf captives suffered while being held there.

“Lagi kasing may tubig na bumababa sa bundok kaya para siyang umiiyak. In fact, ito ang source ng tubig sa entire Sulu Island. At ito ‘yung isa sa mga dahilan kaya bakit kailangan magkaroon ng awareness at maprotektahan ‘yung virgin forests dito,” Arrojado said.

To help achieve that, the climb will also include a tree-planting activity, he said.

Arrojado said teams of soldiers are now conducting clearing operations on Tumantangis every now and then not only to ensure the security of this weekend’s climb, but also future treks.

Once tourists come to Tumantangis, residents are expected to earn money through services that cater to needs of trekkers and backpackers, he said.

It is hoped that by then, Sulu will finally be rid of the tag of being “one of the most dangerous places on earth,” Arrojado said. (John Roson)

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An aide of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron was shot dead in Patikul, Sulu, not by government forces but by fellow members of the bandit group, the military reported.

Killed was one Nadzmil Ali, a “trusted” man of Sahiron, Armed Forces public affairs chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said Wednesday.

A Sulu-based military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Ali, whose real name is Khalid Sali, was shot dead in Brgy. Buhanginan around 4 p.m. Monday.

Sali, an Abu Sayyaf sub-commander who served as Sahiron’s “right-hand man,” was bathing at a stream when he was shot, the official said.

Sali was shot with his own gun by a nephew, who fellow Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Furuji Indama had “agitated,” the source said.

“Pinaghihinalaan kasi nila Sawadjaan itong si Sali na informant ng military, na kung bakit tuwing magkakasama sila ay nae-engage sila ng tropa. Parang purging ang nangyari,” said the source.

A Manila-based military official monitoring developments in Sulu said Sali was a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) who got integrated into the AFP.

Sali eventually earned the rank of captain in the military, but went AWOL sometime in 2008 then joined the Abu Sayyaf, the official said.

The Sulu-based official said security forces did not see Sali’s body as it was buried in Patikul on Tuesday.

“We are validating this report regarding the killing of Nadzmil Ali, and we are also verifying the report that he was indeed the former Army captain, Khalid Sali, who went AWOL seven years ago,” Cabunoc said.

‘Infighting’

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said her office has also yet to receive an official report on Sali’s killing, but admitted hearing of the supposed dissention among Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders.

“Medyo may doubt na sila sa isa’t isa. Hinihintay ko pa ang official report diyan,” she said.

The Sulu-based official revealed that Sali’s killing prompted Sawadjaan and Indama to “split” from Sahiron’s group for fear of retaliation from the Abu Sayyaf top leader.

“Ngayon umalis na sila Sawadjaan, humiwalay kasama si Furuji, alam kasi nilang babawi si Radullan. Nasa Patikul pa rin sila pero ibang area na,” the official said.

“May infighting na sa kanila. Nag-move na sila Sawadjaan at Furuji na palitan si Sahiron, ang gusto nilang ipalit si Yasser Igasan,” the source added.

Sahiron, who is said to have taken over the helm of the Abu Sayyaf after Khadaffy Janjalani was killed in 2006, is included in the U.S.’ list of most wanted terrorists, with the State Department offering up to US$ 1 million for his capture.

Igasan is also a prominent Abu Sayyaf commander who, according to intelligence reports, should have succeeded Janjalani but was not acknowledged by Sahiron because he is more of a cleric and has relatively lower skills in combat. (John Roson)

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Three Malaysian operatives of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) were reportedly spotted among Abu Sayyaf members as government troops figured in another clash with the bandit group in Patikul, Sulu, Thursday.

The military revealed the information as it announced that 14 Abu Sayyaf members have been confirmed killed and 19 more were injured in previous clashes in Patikul on Wednesday.

“There is an information” on the three Malaysian JI operatives’ presence, Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command, said by phone.

Elements of the 14th Scout Ranger Company clashed with the group of Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan “with the three JI Malaysian nationals” in Sitio Kanjimaw, Brgy. Tugas, 9:15 a.m., according a a report from the AFP Joint Task Group (JTG) Sulu.

“Civilian tipsters revealed that the three Malaysian members of the Jemaah Islamiyah were coddled by the group of Sawadjaan,” AFP public affairs office chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said in a statement.

Captain Antonio Bulao, JTG Sulu public affairs officer, said the firefight with the Abu Sayyaf men and their JI cohorts lasted for almost 15 minutes.

No soldier was injured in the fighting, while the Abu Sayyaf is believed to have suffered “casualties” because blood trails were seen along the bandits’ route of withdrawal to Sitio Gabang, Brgy. Bakong, Bulao said.

Troops of the 35th Infantry Battalion later discovered an encampment that can accommodate at least 50 persons, Cabunoc said.

16 dead, 35 hurt

The fresh clash occurred after troops battled about 300 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sawadjaan in Brgy. Tanum, also in Patikul, on Wednesday.

Two skirmishes occurred in Tanum, leaving a total of 16 combatants dead and 35 others wounded from both the government and Abu Sayyaf.

Fourteen Abu Sayyaf men were killed while 19 other bandits were hurt in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

Some of the slain bandits were identified as Berhamin Jawhari, Musar Sawadjaan, Jani Madjid, Adzmar Muhammad, Ompoy Uran, and Mussal Jawhari, according to a report from JTG Sulu.

Eight other slain bandits have yet to be identified, but they were traced to have come from Luuk, Patikul, and Indanan, according to the report.

Bandit commander hurt

Soldiers are also checking information that Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan was injured in Wednesday’s clashes, Muyuela said.

“‘Yun po talaga ang report na nakarating sa amin, injured siya (Sawadjaan), kaya parang di masyadong makagalaw itong Abu Sayyaf from their position sa Patikul,” a military official based in Sulu said.

Sawadjaan, said to be almost “equal” in stature with Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, is implicated in several incidents of kindapping incidents in Sulu.

“Nakita din ‘yung grupo ni Furuji Indama, na sa Basilan talaga nakabase, na kasama nila,” the Sulu-based official said on condition of anonymity.

Wednesday’s clashes also resulted in the death of two soldiers and wounding of 16 other troopers.

Killed were Cpl. Lonell Bautista, of Cavite; and Pfc. Ervin Roquero, of Negros Occidental, Cabunoc said, citing information from JTG Sulu.

Among 16 wounded are 1Lt. Ramsel Dugan and 2Lt. Bernard Mabazza. Most of the wounded were hit by shrapnel from 40mm grenade launchers, he said.

U.S. choppers to the rescue, again

The wounded soldiers were brought from the clash site to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo via military helicopters, according to JTG Sulu.

They were later transferred to Zamboanga City via choppers of the U.S. military’s defense contractor, Evergreen, the task group reported.

Evergreen helicopters were also seen helping transport some of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) members who were injured in the deadly clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

“Okay lang ‘yun, what is wrong with an ally helping another?” AFP spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla told reporters when asked if the U.S. assistance was legal.

“They (U.S.) are not directly involved in the operation because that will be violative of the Constitution… They share information and they assist in casualty evacuations,” Padilla added. (John Roson)

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