Tag Archive: Jemaah Islamiyah


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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Marwan escaped in 2012 — AFP

The Armed Forces on Monday admitted that Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah operative Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan escaped a military air strike in 2012, contrary to its previous claim.

Then AFP chief Gen. Jessie Dellosa did not endorse the release of the reward on the Malaysian bomb expert’s head “because there was a validated report that Marwan was able to escape unharmed,” AFP public affairs chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc said.

Marwan — for whose capture the U.S. government offers a whopping US$5 million — was reported by the AFP as killed after Air Force planes dropped bombs on Brgy. Duyan Kabao, Parang, Sulu, on February 2, 2012.

“The AFP announced the death of Marwan in February 2012 based on the existing intelligence data during that time,” Cabunoc said.

Cabunoc’s remarks came amid reports that Marwan had indeed been killed in the operation by members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, last January 25.

Forty-four SAF members were killed in a clash with members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as they withdrew from Marwan’s hideout.

“The DNA testing that is currently undertaken will prove his (Marwan) reported death in Mamasapano,” Cabunoc said. (John Roson)

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The government sacked the commander of the National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) following the death of more than 40 police commandos in a clash with Muslim armed groups in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, over the weekend.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina made the announcement then claimed that they did not recieve prior notice of the elite police unit’s operation, which eventually turned into the bloody clash.

Director Getulio Napeñas was relieved as SAF commander pending the result of an investigation by the PNP, Roxas said in a press briefing in Camp Crame Tuesday.

“He (Napeñas) was given chance to help recover body of his men, but today he was recalled back to Manila,” Roxas added.

Espina said in the same briefing that SAF deputy commander Chief Superintendent Noli Taliño will replace Napeñas, in an officer-in-charge capacity.

“His (Napeñas) administrative relief will pave the way for the start of the board of inquiry, I would like to get to bottom of things,” he said.

The inquiry will be conducted by Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao head Dir. Edgardo Ingking, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Dir. Benjamin Magalong, and Directorate for Research and Development head Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez, Espina said.

Crame ‘not told’ of SAF operation

Roxas and Espina claimed that the DILG and PNP leadership were not informed of Sunday’s SAF operation in Mamasapano — which involved almost a battalion of police commandos in full battle gear — before it was executed.

“No… Ang masasabi natin, hindi ‘yan dumating sa command group,” Roxas said when asked if the operation was cleared with him.

“It did not reach the command group. That’s as far as I can say, everything will be tackled in the board of inquiry… It didn’t reach us,” Espina said for his part.

A total of 392 SAF members from different parts of the country participated in the operation, which targetted Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah operative Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Filipino bomb expert Abdul Basit Usman, Roxas said.

“It was a legitimate operation,” Roxas said in a televised press briefing in Maguindanao on Monday afternoon.

Bitter pill

Roxas on Tuesday maintained his careful stance on how the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) — which just concluded peace negotiations with the government last year — was involved in the clash that followed the SAF raid.

As of Tuesday, 44 SAF members were confirmed killed while 12 are injured and 336 are unharmed and accounted for, Roxas said.

“Tuloy ang tiwala at kumpiyansa ng PNP sa peace process na bagamat napakalungkot, matindi ang kapaitan ng pangyayari, ang mas malawak na peace process ay mahalaga at kabahagi ang PNP sa pagsulong ng peace process,” he said.

The government and MILF signed a peace agreement March 2014 and are currently waiting for the approval of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which will implement their deal.

Congress’ deliberations on the BBL were suspended until investigations on the clash are completed.

Elements of the SAF were first attacked by members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), then had a “misencounter” with members of the MILF, Roxas explained.

The DILG chief also said Tuesday that investigators still have yet to determine if Marwan, who is wanted by the U.S. government, had indeed been killed in the SAF raid as earlier field reports indicated.

‘Justice’

Despite their toned-down stance, Roxas and Espina vowed to give “justice” to the slain SAF members.

“‘Yung pagbibigay ng katarungan ay sa dalawang paraan – filing ng kaso versus sa mga pumatay sa SAF heroes, kabahagi na nito ‘yung kung may lapses at pananagutin kung meron man, and honors and benefits,” Roxas said.

Espina said full honors, awards, and promotion will be given to the slain police commandos while benefits will be extended to their families.

“I will recommend the highest possible medals to be given — equivalent to a Gold Cross medal — to our fallen heroes. I will also recommend spot promotion of those who died in this operation. Full state honors, benefits will be given,” he said.

Director Rolando Purugganan, head of the Directorate for Comptollership, was tasked to facilitate and ensure the distribution of awards and benefits to the slain policemen and their families, Espina said.

Central Mindanao police take strong stance

While the DILG and PNP leadership kept statements at a low key, the Central Mindanao regional police outrightly condemned the killing of SAF members in Mamasapano.

“The bloodbath brought about by the brutal and cowardly doing of heartless rebel groups was such inimical and condemnable act,” Chief Superintendent Lester Camba, director of the Region 12 police said in a statement.

Camba’s statement came along with one from North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Mendoza.

“The incident is condemnable, we must not forget the series of bombings that occurred in the province of North Cotabato… Our elite special forces were going after two notorious bomb makers,” the police statement quoted Mendoza as saying.

Marwan and Usman, along with members of the BIFF, are blamed for the recent bombings in North Cotabato and other parts of Central Mindanao.

North Cotabato and Maguindanao share a vast, marshy border where bombing suspects and rebels who conducted attacks in previous years are said to be hiding.

“While we support our peace initiatives, our government troops who set law and maintain order in this civilized society should be respected and not killed,” Mendoza added.

Blast kills 2

As Tuesday wound to a close, a still unidentified type of explosive went off in Pikit, North Cotabato, killing two people.

The explosion occurred near a convenience store along Manuel L. Quezon st., Brgy. Poblacion, around 6:11 p.m., said Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

Two persons on a motorcycle died on the spot because of the blast, Petinglay said in a text message.

The two are “suspected bombers killed by the premature explosion of the IED (improvised explosive device) they were carrying,” Senior Superintendent Danilo Peralta, director of the North Cotabato provincial police, said in a separate message.

Local police are still trying to identify the fatalities and the type of IED that went off, Peralta said. (John Roson)

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Several casualties were reported as police commandos clashed with armed men while hunting down an operative of the Southeast Asian terror network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, Sunday, a police official said.

“May mga casualty sa side natin at side nila pero di pa namin makuha ang exact figure, we are still in the process of extraction,” Senior Superintendent Noel Armilla, officer-in-charge of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao regional police, said by phone.

The clash involved members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) and “lawless elements,” he said.

Earlier, around 4 a.m., SAF members conducted a special operation in Brgy. Tukanalipao, targetting an “individual linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah,” Armilla said, citing field reports.

“Fortunately, according to them, na-acomplish nila ang mission nila, pero habang nagwi-withdraw sila in-engage sila ng lawless elements sa marshland area, that was around 9 to 10 a.m.,” he said.

The clash lasted for hours and “sporadic fighting” is still occuring, Armilla said when reached by phone 7 p.m.

Reinforcements from different units of the ARMM police, and the Army’s mechanized brigade have been sent, he said.

Other policemen, personnel of the local government unit, and the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team are now also in the area to help fetch the casualties and monitor the situation, Armilla said.

Sources said that the SAF operation targetted Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, a Malaysian bomb expert.

Marwan is wanted by the U.S. government, which is offering US$ 5 million for his capture.

He was previously reported to have died in a military air strike in Sulu province in 2012. (John Roson)

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The United States military has started downsizing its anti-terror task force in Mindanao and only 30 troops will remain, possibly by next year, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said.

“Hindi total pullout. May 30 personnel na maiiwan… by May 2015, subject to change,” the defense chief said in an interview via text message.

Gazmin was referring to the Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P), which is based in Camp Navarro, Zamboanga City, also home of the AFP Western Mindanao Command.

According to Gazmin, the JSOTF-P has already reduced its personnel from 500 and now only has 200 members.

“‘Yung reason [for the downsizing] is because hindi naman talaga sila permanente,” the defense chief told reporters, adding that American troops greatly helped improve security in Mindanao.

“Nakita naman na sunud-sunod ‘yung huli natin sa mga Abu Sayyaf… malaki ang improvement,” he said.

Kurt Hoyer, U.S. Embassy spokesman, said the JSOTF-P’s success led American and Filipino security officials “to begin working on a transition plan where the JSOTF-P will no longer exist as a task force.”

He, however, said many of the JSOTF-P’s capabilities will remain under an “augmentation team” of the U.S. Pacific Command.

The U.S. started deploying JSOTF-P troops to Mindanao on January 28, 2002, a year after the deadly Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by the al Qaeda terror network in New York City and Washington D.C.

The deployments were in support of “efforts to counter the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah – terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda,” according to a U.S. Embassy fact sheet. (John Roson)

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Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (photo in Malaysian passport, courtesy of Davao City Police)

Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (photo in Malaysian passport, courtesy of Davao City Police)

Authorities shot dead a Malaysian believed to be a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) after he tried to detonate a bomb in Davao City on Friday night, a police official said.

Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, Davao City Police director, identified the slain suspect as Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar, a native of Malaysia’s Kedah state.

Kahar was shot dead by members of the police’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team in front of the Apo View Hotel around 10:30 p.m. after a brief chase, Dela Rosa said in a text message.

Earlier, around 7 p.m., police received an information that Kahar and his Filipina wife had checked in at the Sampaguita Hotel in Camus st. cor Quirino st., bringing an “IED (improvised explosive device) to be used for a terror attack in Davao City,” Dela Rosa said.

Slain suspect Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Slain suspect Mohammad Noor Fikrie bin Abdul Kahar (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

He said this prompted him to alert the military and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and ask the hotel management to eject the suspects from their room.

Kahar and his wife, later identified as Anabelle Nieva Lee, were checking out around 10:30 p.m. when they were approached by Dela Rosa and NICA agents at the hotel lobby.

Kahar raised his cellphone, telling the operatives that he will detonate a bomb if they arrest or shoot him, Dela Rosa said.

“Everybody scampered for safety while the suspects went out to the road embracing each other, with Kahar raising his cellphone as if warning the lawmen of an impending IED explosion,” he said.

Members of the SWAT were ordered to shoot down Kahar, but could not do it as the area was crowded with pedestrians and motorists, Dela Rosa said.

Explosives experts disarming the bomb (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Explosives experts disarming the bomb (Photo courtesy of Davao City Police)

Kahar suddenly grabbed his wife’s backpack and ran towards the People’s Park, but was cornered in front of the Apo View Hotel where he was shot.
The suspect's backpack and bomb parts.

The suspect’s backpack and bomb parts.

Police and military explosives experts later found the bomb, which was made of a 60-millimeter mortar ammunition, inside the backpack and disarmed it using the “water disruptor” technique.

Kahar’s remains have been brought to a funeral parlor. Lee, a native of Sorsogon and a Muslim convert, is presently detained at the Davao City Police Office’s investigative and detective management branch.

Kahar’s death came barely a month after authorities shot dead an Indonesian also believed to be a JI member inside the Mindanao State University compound in Marawi City on Nov. 22. (John Roson)

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An Indonesian believed to be a member of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was killed during a police-military operation against members of the regional terror network inside the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City, Thursday night.

Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the suspect was identified only through the aliases Ustadz Sanusi and Ishak.

The suspect, charged with arson and murder, was shot during a commotion that ensued from the operation in Barrio Salam. He was brought to the Amai Pakpak Hospital but died later, Caber said.

“Namatay siya (suspect) sa hospital, meron siyang isang tama… hindi natin malaman pa kung sino ang nakabaril kasi nagkaroon ng commotion,” the regional Army spokesman said in a phone interview.

Caber said members of the 103rd Infantry Brigade and PNP Special Action Force (SAF) were sent to the MSU compound to arrest seven alleged JI personalities, including alias Ustadz Sanusi.

The warrant of arrest for was issued by 11th Judicial Region RTC Judge Oscar Noel Jr. of Saranggani, Caber said.

A SAF member was wounded when he fell from a building during the short pursuit. Policemen recovered a hand grenade and M16 rifle from alias Ustadz Sanusi, Caber said. (John Roson)

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Police have confirmed that there were casualties in Thursday’s air strike in Parang, Sulu, but remained clueless on identities despite military claims that those killed were Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) members.

“Ang maa-assure lang namin is may binomba dun ‘yung Air Force, ma-assure din namin is may namatay, pero with regards to the identity eh zero pa kami,” Chief Supt. Bienvenido Latag, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director, said in a phone interview.

Hours after the predawn air raid, military officials and spokesmen said 15 were killed, including JI operatives Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Muhammad Ali bin Abd Al-Rahman alias Muawiyah, and Gumbahali Umbra Jumdail alias Dr. Abu, a top Abu Sayyaf leader.

On Friday, Armed Forces spokesman Col. Arnulfo Burgos announced names of eight other fatalities, but admitted that no bodies were found at the bombarded area.

The eight comprise alias “Jumong,” a suspected Malaysian JI operative; Abu Sayyaf members Moammar Jumdail alias Ting, a son of Dr. Abu; Tati Jamhali; Tuan Nash Lipae; alias Leong; alias Teng; alias Muin; and alias Julpe.

“We are not in possession (of the bodies) right now, but we already have locations, some were taken deep into the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) territory,” Burgos said.

Latag, for his part, said policemen who went to the area could not even tell how many were killed after OV-10 planes dropped four 260-pound bombs.

“Kino-collect pa ang reports galing sa ground kasi iba-iba ang sinasabi ng mga tao dun. May nagsasabi na labindalawa (ang namatay), may nagsasabi na walo,” he said.

“Immediately after the bombing nagpunta sila (policemen) doon, na-pinpoint nila exactly kung saan bumagsak ‘yung bomba and according to them, talagang may nawasak na mga bunker at saka may mga traces of blood, but wala silang nakuhang tao,” Latag said.

Latag, who once served as an operative in Sulu during the adbuction and captivity of three International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) workers in 2009, said the bombs fell somwhere between Brgys. Duyan Kabau and Lanao Dakulah.

“Kung makikita mo talagang area ng MNLF ‘yan, area ng MNLF na pinapasyalan ng Abu Sayyaf, actually hindi kontrolado ng Armed Forces yan, pulis lang ang nakakapasok diyan kung minsan,” he said.

The area is near Mt. Taran, where Abu Sayyaf gunmen held captive Filipina Mary-Jean Lacaba, Swiss national Andreas Notter, and Italian Eugenio Vagni, who were abducted in Jolo after inspecting water and sanitation facilities for the ICRC, Latag said.

Burgos said the military is now asking members of the slain militants’ families to let them see the bodies for “identification procedures,” including DNA testing.

Malaysian authorities are also getting in touch with the AFP to recover the body of Marwan, whose mother reportedly requested for her son’s remains to be returned to their home in Muar, Johor, the military spokesman added. (John Roson)

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Five operatives of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah are still on the loose after government forces carried out an air raid on the group’s lair in Parang, Sulu, the military said.

“Right now they are disorganized, they are on the run,” Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Armed Forces spokesman, said in a briefing Friday. “What we know is that they are still in Mindanao.”

The five are among six Malaysian JI operatives who were monitored by the military as to have entered the Philippines in December, Burgos said.

One of the six, identified only through the alias “Jumong,” was among the 15 terror suspects who were killed in the air strike, he said.

The 15 included JI operatives Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan and Muhammad Ali bin Abd Al-Rahman alias Muawiyah, and Gumabahali Umbra Jumdail alias Dr. Abu, a top Abu Sayyaf leader, the military said on Thursday.

Burgos identified the others killed in the assault as Abu Sayyaf members Moammar Jumdail alias Ting, a son of Dr. Abu; Tati Jamhali; Tuan Nash Lipae; alias Leong; alias Teng; alias Muin; and alias Julpe.

“We are not in possession (of the slain militants’ bodies) right now, but we already have locations, some were taken deep into the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) territory,” he said.

When military planes dropped four 260-pound bombs in Brgy. Duyan Kabao, the militants were “temporarily harbored and housed in tents” and some survived, Burgos said.

“They were confident na hindi sila babanatan kasi nga MNLF territory,” a military source said.

Meanwhile, Burgos said the military is now asking members of the slain militants’ families to let them see the bodies for “identification procedures,” including DNA testing.

Malaysian authorities are also getting in touch with the AFP to recover the body of Marwan, whose mother reportedly requested for her son’s remains to be returned to their home in Muar, Johor, the military spokesman added. (John Roson)

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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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