Tag Archive: military


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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Authorities in Northern Mindanao have been alerted for a possible “spillover” of clashes between government troops and a local terrorist group in neighboring Lanao del Sur, police said said Saturday.

“The command, which is already on ‘full alert’ status, has intensified its intelligence build-up and checkpoint operations in its boundaries to contain and prevent a spillover,” said Supt. Surki Sereñas, Northern Mindanao regional police spokesman.

Members of the 10th Regional Public Safety Battalion have also been sent to augment provincial and city police units that share geographical boundaries with Lanao del Sur “in case of eventualities,” Sereñas said in a statement.

Lanao del Norte and its capital, Iligan City, share a vast boundary with Lanao del Sur.

Police units there are also “constantly” coordinating with police and military counterparts in the affected areas, Sereñas said.

Clashes in Lanao del Sur’s Butig town erupted last February 20 after about 80 to 100 followers of brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute attacked a military detachment there.

As of Saturday, troops have recovered five bodies of the Mautes’ followers, three M16 rifles, a sniper rifle, and two rocket-propelled grenades, said Colonel Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade.

Earlier, the military said intelligence reports indicate that at least 42 terror suspects, including Omar Maute, had been killed in the week-long offensive.

Three soldiers also died in the clashes while 11 more were injured.

Security forces have been pounding the hinterlands of Butig since Feb. 20 with OV-10 bomber planes, MG-520 attack helicopters, and Howitzer cannons, prompting more than 20,000 people living nearby to evacuate.

No clash occurred on Saturday, but soldiers are still pursuing the Mautes’ remaining followers, Murillo said.

The Maute brothers’ group has been proclaiming itself as a branch of the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but authorities dismissed these claims, saying the local gunmen were only joining the ISIS bandwagon.

The group is “allied” to a certain Ustadz Sanusi, an Indonesian conduit of the Jemaah Islamiyah who was killed in a raid in Marawi City in November 2012, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a recent interview. (John Roson)

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Government forces seized the lair of a local terrorist group in Butig, Lanao del Sur, following a week-long offensive that left as much as 45 people dead and 20,000 displaced, authorities said Friday.

Troops took the “stronghold” of Abdullah Maute and his recently deceased brother Omar before Thursday evening, said Maj. Filemon Tan, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman.

“Sadly, three soldiers were killed and 11 were wounded,” Tan said in a text message to reporters.

Intelligence reports on Friday indicated that 42 of the terrorists, including Omar Maute, had been killed, he said.

Soldiers are scouring the group’s lair and have so far found two M16 rifles, a homemade caliber-.50 rifle, and two rocket-propelled grenades, Tan said.

Operations are still underway in the area, though air strikes and artillery fires were halted to give way to ground troops.

“Tao-tao muna at mga tangke ang pumapasok, naka-standby ang mga attack helicopter at kanyon kung kailanganin,” Tan said.

Security forces have been pounding the hinterlands of Butig since last Saturday (Feb.20) with OV-10 bomber planes, MG-520 attack helicopters, and Howitzer cannons, prompting thousands of people living nearby to evacuate homes.

20,000 displaced, more still fleeing

A total of 1,207 families are displaced within Butig while 1,328 fled to the adjacent towns of Masiu and Lumbayanague, and 2,446 more evacuated as far as Buadiposo-Buntong, Ditsaan Ramain, up to the provincial capital Marawi City, according to figures released by the provincial government.

The displaced families are made up of more than 20,000 individuals from five barangays, according to another count by the Office of Civil Defense-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Continuous pa rin [ang evacuation], kasi marami ring naipit doon, di makalabas. Naglalakad na nga ‘yung iba palabas kasi di naman basta-basta masundo dahil continuous ang bakbakan,” said Saripada Pacasum, assistant head of the Lanao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

“May nadaanan nga kami kahapon (Thursday), ‘yung sasakyan nila binuksan na ‘yung bubong, nilagyan na ng gamit para magkasya lang sila. Kawawa. Makikita na sila (evacuees) sa kalsada na paalis,” he said.

Relief goods short

While those who are fleeing still face woes along the road, some families who have already evacuated are facing a shortage in relief goods.
Pacasum admitted that the sheer number of evacuees has become a concern for relief operations, so the provincial government asked the ARMM regional government for assistance.

As of Friday morning, a total 2,507 familes have been given relief goods and authorities are still working to distribute to 2,474 more.

“Kulang pa, kasi plus ito pa ngang nadadagdag na evacuees, so tuloy pa rin ang repacking,” Pacasum said.

Governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. requested support and the ARMM government’s Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team is expected to deliver more goods Friday, he said.

Not ISIS

The Maute brothers’ group of about 80 to 100 men attacked an Army detachment last Saturday, forcing the offensive, Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a recent interview.

The group has been proclaiming itself as a branch of the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria but authorities dismissed these claims, saying there is no real link between the two and the local gunmen were only joining the ISIS bandwagon.

It is “allied” to a certain Ustadz Sanusi, an Indonesian conduit of the Jemaah Islamiyah who was killed in a raid in Marawi City in November 2012, Padilla said. (John Roson)

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Thousands flee Lanao del Sur clashes

More than 2,000 people have fled Butig town in Lanao del Sur to avoid getting caught in the middle of clashes between government troops and a “local terrorist group,” a disaster official said.

A total of 2,067 evacuees from Butig were recorded in the provincial capital, Marawi City, so far and more are reportedly coming, said Saripada Pacasum, assistant head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

A “bigger number” of evacuees is also being reported in Masiu, adjacent to Butig, but authorities are still checking the figures, Pacasum said by phone.

Personnel of the PDRRMO and its head, retired military colonel Tatar Boriongan, have gone to Masiu to check on the number and distribute relief goods, he said.

The provincial government has convened a crisis committee meeting and is set to announce the figures Tuesday afternoon or evening, Pacasum said.

Residents evacuated Butig amid clashes that erupted on Saturday, he said.

Those who fled to Marawi, which is a two-hour land travel away, commuted and hitched rides on some passing vehicles.

“Iba-iba ang kuwento kung paano sila nakarating dito, may mga namasahe, meron ding mga sumakay sa vehicles na nag-offer ng ride para lang makaalis sila doon, kasi kababayan naman,” Pacasum said.

“Binobombahan kasi ng helicopters at saka ng artillery ng military ‘yung kalaban, so umalis sila (residents) para hindi maipit,” he said.

Initial field reports indicate that eight barangays of Butig are affected by the fighting.

Members of non-government relief organizations, including the Red Cross, have asked that they be allowed to visit the affected areas, and are still waiting for a go signal from the military, Pacasum said.

“Kinordon kasi ng military so ngayon wala pa talagang ng maka-penetrate sa area,” he said.

“Saturday pa nagsimula ‘yung bakbakan pero before pa, tina-try na hindi mangyari ‘yan. Kaya lang talagang matitigas itong grupo na ito ng local terrorists,” Pacasum said.

Army outpost attacked

Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, Armed Forces spokesman, told reporters in Manila that fighting erupted late Saturday when the group of the “Maute brothers” attacked the Army 51st Infantry Battalion’s detachment in Brgy. Bayabao, Butig.

The group of about 80 to 100 fighters is “allied” to a foreign conduit of the regional terror network Jemaah Islamiyah who was “neutralized” in 2012, Padilla said.

Two soldiers were killed and six were wounded, while unvalidated reports indicate that 20 of Maute’s men died, he said.

Troops operating on the ground were supported by Air Force OV-10 planes that conducted bomb runs on known enemy positions and MG-520 helicopters that provided close air support for maneuvering units, Padilla said.

“The group of the Maute brothers was held at bay, cordoned off by our troops, and are holding their position as of press time,” he said.

Pacasum, citing information from the military, said the “terrorists” are not members of affiliates of the Middle East-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“Local terrorists lang, hindi totoo ‘yung sinasabi ng iba na ISIS. Walang ISIS dito. Naga-ISIS-ISIS lang ang mga ‘yan,” he said.

Convoy ambushed

Colonel Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said another fighting erupted between soldiers and a “local terrorist organization” around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday.

The fighting occurred in Brgy. Pantara-Bato, Tugaya, also in Lanao del Sur, when an undetermined number of armed men ambushed a military convoy, said Major Filemon Tan, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesman.

Tugaya is on the other side of Lake Lanao, facing Masiu and Butig.

The convoy was transporting an armored personnel carrier to Brgy. Alog in Lumbatan town when it was attacked, Tan said.

One soldier was killed in the fighting, which lasted for about 45 minutes, he said.

Two MG-520 helicopters and a platoon of soldiers with two armored vehicles were sent to reinforce the ambushed troops.

Tan said the military is still trying to ascertain who carried out the attack. (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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Five New People’s Army members were killed while two soldiers were wounded as government troops clashed with a large band of rebels who ambushed them in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, on Tuesday, the military said Wednesday.

Troops recovered the slain rebels’ bodies, along with an AK-47 rifle, 19 back packs, food and medical supplies, and subversive documents, said Captain Albert Caber, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command.

An officer and an enlisted personnel of the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Company (3rd SFC) were also wounded in the clash and have been taken to the hospital, Caber said by phone.

“Residents reported that there are at least five other rebels who have been wounded, so it’s possible that the casualties will rise. Clearing operations are ongoing as we speak,” he added.

The clash occurred 4:14 p.m. in Brgy. Mendiz, but was reported to the regional military command only Wednesday because of poor communication lines in the area, according to Caber.

Fighting lasted for one hour and 30 minutes before the rebels withdrew, he said.

According to Caber, elements of the 3rd SFC went to that barangay to check reports on the presence of NPA members.

“May nagreport kasi na may mga NPA dun, so pinuntahan ng SF to verify. While on their way, pinutukan na agad sila, so nagretaliate ‘yung SF. More or less 60 ‘yung nakalaban nila doon,” Caber said.

“Ambush talaga ang nangyari, kaya lang nakapag-return fire ‘yung SF,” he said.

The slain rebels have yet to be identified but information from the ground indicate that they were members of the North Central Mindanao Regional Commitee and were led by an alias “Andy,” Caber said.

Troops have already coordinated with the local government to help identify the slain rebels and facilitate their burial, he 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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