Tag Archive: Western Mindanao

Businesswoman abducted in Sulu

Authorities are trying to locate a businesswoman abducted by armed men in Jolo, Sulu, on Sunday, the military reported.

Abducted was 58-year-old Dingkim Yap, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela said, citing a report from the Joint Task Group Sulu.

The incident occurred around 12:30 p.m. in Brgy. Chinese Pier.

About six armed men forced Yap into a blue Tamaraw FX then sped away, according to the report.

Yap, who is engaged in textile trade, is said to have come from her store when she was abducted, a military official based in Sulu said.

Local authorities are now following leads that could help determine the abductors’ identities and motive, the official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak. (John Roson)

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Two Abu Sayyaf members were killed while at least 10 other people, including civilians, were injured when government troops clashed with the bandit group in Al Barka, Basilan, on Sunday, the military said.

Two bandits were killed and at least two others were wounded, said Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command.

Initial reports from the Joint Task Group Basilan indicate that three soldiers suffered slight injuries, Muyuela said.

Five civilians, including two young children, were wounded after being shot at by Abu Sayyaf members during the clash, said 1Lt. Sally Christine Magno, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 104th Brigade.

They were identified as Jumiran Misa, 52; Radisa Misa, 18; Sanima Husien, 29; Asma Husien, 2; and Sarfe Misa, 5; all residents of Sitio Peggesan, Brgy. Guinanta.

Elements of the Joint Task Group Basilan encountered Abu Sayyaf members led by Basir Kasaran in Brgy. Kuhon around 5:45 a.m.

As the fighting went on, bandits also shot at civilians near the encounter site around 11:35 a.m., so soldiers conducted rescue operations, Magno said.

After rescuing the civilians, soldiers brought them to a hospital in Lamitan City for first aid then transferred them to another facility in Isabela City, she said.

Sporadic firefights, meanwhile, went on until 1 p.m., Magno said.

The clash is a result of efforts of the multi-agency Task Force Kasanyangan, which aims to address the prevailing insurgency problem and revive governance in Al Barka, a known Abu Sayyaf stronghold, she said. (John Roson)

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An Abu Sayyaf member was killed when the bandit group clashed with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government troops who provided reinforcement, in Sumisip, Basilan, on Saturday, the military said.

This developed after security forces expressed disappointment over the MILF’s involvement in a clash that resulted in the death of 44 members of the National Police’s Special Action Force (SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, on January 25.

Members of the MILF encountered about 50 Abu Sayyaf members in Brgy. Pamatsaken around 10 a.m., said 1Lt. Sally Christine Magno, civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 104th Brigade.

Upon learning the incident, the 64th Infantry Battalion sent three platoons of soldiers and armored vehicles “to reinforce the beleaguered MILF members,” Magno said.

The troops proceeded to the encounter site with Brgy. Central chairman Marjim Barillo and other MILF members, she said.

The Abu Sayyaf members, led by sub-commanders Radzmil Jannatul, Juhaibel Alamsirul, and Pasil Bayali, withdrew towards Brgy. Baiwas, apparently sensing the large strength of the reinforcing troops and MILF, Magno said.

Members of the 64th IB then transported MILF member Sahid Liberal alias “Balinting,” who was wounded in the clash, to his relatives and later to Basilan Community Hospital in Isabela City, she said.

Other soldiers and some MILF members, meanwhile, pursued the Abu Sayyaf and cleared encampments and a jungle base of the bandits between Pamatsaken and Baiwas.

“It was reported that one Abu Sayyaf bandit was killed during the encounter,” Magno said.

The killing of SAF troopers in Mamasapano, which came shortly after a raid where the police commandos killed Malaysian terror suspect Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan, raised questions on the MILF’s sincerity in the peace deal it signed with the government in March 2014.

National Police officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina publicly criticized the involved Muslim rebels for the “overkill.”

The death of the SAF troopers also fueled talk of a rift between the PNP and Armed Forces which, some say, failed to reinforce the beleaguered policemen in their time of need.

Both the PNP and AFP have denied that such a rift exists, but only after military officials said the SAF failed to coordinate its mission and sacked SAF commander Director Getulio Napenas claimed otherwise.

President Benigno Aquino, in a televised speech on Friday, warned that it will be more dangerous for the country if the PNP and AFP were to clash.

The President, in what was seen by observers as a move to douse the “rift” issue between the PNP and AFP, vowed to pursue justice for the slain police commandos and warned that the combined strength of both agencies will be used to “run over” those who will again attack security forces who are performing their duty. (John Roson)

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Security forces in Sulu beefed up security measures as more Abu Sayyaf “casualties” are being reported after Friday’s clash in Patikul.

As of Saturday, the military received reports of 15 Abu Sayyaf “casualties” — nine of whom are believed to have been killed and six others seriously wounded — from Friday’s clash in Brgy. Buhanginan, a military official based in Sulu said.

Fellow bandits are reportedly trying to bring the nine towards Panglima Estino while six are monitored to be on their way to Jolo, said the official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.

“‘Yung nine ang believed na fatal nila kasi ‘yun ang dinala papunta sa origin nitong grupo. Looban na ‘yun, wala silang makukuhang medical assistance doon, baka iuuwi na lang ang mga ito sa kamag-anak. ‘Yung mga dinala sa Jolo, ‘yun siguro ang mga ipapagamot nila,” the source said.

Members of the Marines, Army Special Forces, and the Light Armored Cavalry Troops have fanned out to Patikul and Talipao to intercept the casualties, while police were also asked to conduct checkpoints.

This is while elements of the Army’s 32nd and 35th Infantry Battalions, along with members of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion, are conducting pursuit operations, the source said.

On Friday, members of the 35th IB clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, Hairullah Asbang, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, and Amlon Abtahi, according to a report reaching Camp Aguinaldo.

Soldiers fired 105-millimeter Howitzer cannons at the bandits’ position while Air Force helicopter gunships were also used to support the ground troops, according to the report.

Thirteen soldiers were hurt in the clash, which lasted for almost two hours.

All 13 were flown on helicopters to the military camp in Jolo for treatment. One of them was later flown to Zamboanga City because of serious injuries, the source said.

The fighting in Brgy. Buhanginan occurred just a day after two Abu Sayyaf members were killed and three more were wounded in a clash with the 32nd IB in Brgy. Taglibi, also in Patikul, on Thursday.

A nephew of Sahiron was among those who died in that clash, which also resulted in the recovery of several high-powered firearms, the source said.

Sahiron’s group “consolidated” with those of Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders following his nephew’s death, but they splintered again after Friday’s clash, the source added. (John Roson)

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Eight Abu Sayyaf members were either killed or injured while 13 soldiers were hurt when government troops battled a large number of bandits in Patikul, Sulu, on Friday, the military said.

The clash in Brgy. Buhanginan erupted around 11:50 a.m. and lasted for about an hour an a half, said Ensign Chester Ian Ramos, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Force Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi).

Eight “casualties” were monitored among the Abu Sayyaf while 13 soldiers were hurt, Ramos said in a text message.

In Manila, reports quoted AFP public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc as saying that the eight Abu Sayyaf members were killed.

A Sulu-based military official, however, said it was not yet confirmed if the eight were indeed killed.

“May walo sa kalaban, hindi lang namin ma-validate pa kung patay pero walo ‘yun na dinala sa Sitio Kantitap, Brgy. Danag,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

Ramos, based in Zamboanga City, said field reports sent by the Joint Task Group Sulu, only indicated that the Abu Sayyaf casualties were “dragged” by comrades to Sitio Kantitap.

“Hindi pa ma-ascertain kung ilan ang namatay,” Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the AFP Western Mindanao Command also based in Zamboanga, said.

Members of the 35th Infantry Battalion encountered the group of Abu Sayyaf top leader Radullan Sahiron, the Sulu-based source said.

Troops clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf members led by Sahiron, Hairullah Asbang, and Amlon Abtahi, according to a separate military report reaching Camp Aguinaldo.

Soldiers fired 105-millimeter Howitzer cannons while Air Force helicopter gunships were also used to support the ground troops, according to the report.

Most of the injured soldiers only suffered slight wounds and have been taken to the military camp in Jolo, the Sulu-based official said.

Members of the 35th IB, 32nd IB, and 1st Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting pursuit operations against the Abu Sayyaf as of Friday evening.

The fighting occurred just a day after two Abu Sayyaf members were killed and three more were wounded in a clash with members of the 32nd IB on Thursday.

A nephew of Sahiron was among those who died in that clash, which also resulted in the recovery of several high-powered firearms, the source said.

“Kahapon namatay ‘yung pamangkin niya (Sahiron) so nag-consolidate sila. Nag-pursuit naman kami tapos na-engage uli sila,” the source added. (John Roson)

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(Update 10 p.m.) A man was killed while 48 other people were injured when an improvised bomb exploded beside a disco bar in Zamboanga City Friday afternoon, authorities said.

“One died while forty-five persons were wounded in the IED (improvised explosive device) explosion,” Zamboanga City police spokesman Superintendent Ariel Huesca said in a text message Friday night.

Captain Maria Rowena Muyuela, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that the number of injured later rose to 48, as per the city government’s tally.

The victims were brought to the Western Mindanao Medical Center, Zamboanga City Medical Center, Zamboanga Peninsula Hospital and Doctors Hospital, Huesca said.

Killed was Reynaldo Tan, while the injured include a person who is “critically wounded” and a policeman, city police information officer SPO2 Alex Mabalot said by phone.

‘Blast came from car’

The blast came from a car parked beside the Fantasy Disco Pub in Brgy. Guiwan, Muyuela said, citing information from the Task Group Zamboanga (TGZ).

The explosive was “encased” in a red Toyota sedan (WOH-608) owned by one Ralph Lakibul, a resident of Brgy. Canelar, according to a separate military report.

“Hindi totally nawasak ‘yung kotse, mare-recognize mo pa ‘yung porma niya na kotse, pero nakataas na ‘yung hood,” Mabalot said.

The site of the 3:30 p.m. explosion is located just across the street in front of the Guiwan Bus Terminal, he added.

Security tightened

Members of the TGZ and policemen have cordoned the area, Muyuela said.

Post-blast investigation was still ongoing Friday night “to determine the signature/type of IED used by the perpetrators,” Huesca said.

“Undetermined pa kung ano ang sumabog, maraming version, we are still waiting for the EOD (explosives and ordnance disposal unit) to report,” Mabalot said.

Additional policemen from the 9th Regional Public Safety Battalion and TGZ have also been scattered in and around the city to conduct checkpoints, Huesca said.

The explosion occurred while security forces are conducting an offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in neighboring Basilan province.

The al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for several bombing incidents in Zamboanga City in the past.

Northern Mindanao alerted

Meanwhile, policemen in the neighboring region of Northern Mindanao were placed under full alert – the highest among three alert statuses – after the explosion in Zamboanga City.

All police units were told to observe the status in light of the IED explosion and “threats of terrorism,” regional police director Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz said in a statement.

The full alert status comes with “target-hardening” measures, 24/7 checkpoints, deployment of EOD and K-9 units at bus terminals, maximized police visibility in areas of convergence, and border patrols, he said.

Northern Mindanao is connected to the Zamboanga Peninsula in the west by Misamis Occidental and Lanao del Norte.

The region’s two highly urbanized cities – Cagayan de Oro and Iligan – already experienced bombings by the Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic militants in recent years.

“While the PNP enourages vigilance, the public is advised not to panic… Community members are encouraged to report suspicious individuals and activities to the nearest police station,” Cruz said. (John Roson)

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Three Abu Sayyaf members were killed while six others were injured as government troops assaulted a lair of the bandits in Sumisip, Basilan, the military said Wednesday.

“Air strikes were also conducted early Wednesday to support troops who are still pursuing the bandits,” Armed Forces spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said in a text message.

On Tuesday, elements of the Army’s 104th Brigade encountered about 50 Abu Sayyaf members under sub-leader Radzmil Jannatul and Juhaivel Alamsirul.

Soldiers engaged the bandits in three firefights in Brgys. Pamatsaken and Baiwas, Padilla said.

The first clash erupted in Pamatsaken around 11 a.m. and lasted 15 minutes.

Another skirmish erupted shortly before 1 p.m., when Abu Sayyaf snipers fired at soldiers conducting clearing operations in Baiwas.

“Troops conducted counter-sniping operations and inched their way to clearing the area,” Colonel Rolando Bautista, commander of the 104th Brigade, said in a statement.

The third skirmish started past 1:30 p.m., with Jannatul and Alamsirul’s followers joining forces to fight government troopers.

The clash with the combined forces of Jannatul and Alamsirul, who were responsible for an ambush that left six soldiers dead last November, lasted for about two hours, Bautista said.

Soldiers employed close-air and indirect fire support to force the bandits to withdraw to the west, he said.

“As of [Wednesday], the reported Abu Sayyaf casualty coming from different sources is three killed and six wounded, with no casualty on the government side. Troops are still pursuing the withdrawing bandits,” Padilla said.

Earlier this week, the Joint Task Force Zambasulta thru Joint Task Group Basilan launched an operation in Sumisip, targetting Abu Sayyaf leaders.

The operation, dubbed as “Operation: Fortis et Liber,” is part of the Western Mindanao Command’s campaign to clear the Abu Sayyaf’s “area of influence,” Padilla said. (John Roson)

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Armed men abducted a businessman at his eatery near the shore of Zamboanga City on Friday night, police said.

Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, officer-in-charge of the Zamboanga City Police, identified the victim as Edgar Favella, 50, owner of a “carinderia” along the highway near the shore of Brgy. Maasin.

Favella is also engaged in logistics and transport services, owning some hauling trucks, a source said.

Five men, of whom two were carrying short firearms, seized Favella in front of his eatery around 6:45 p.m. and forced him into a pumpboat, De Ocampo said in a phone interview.

Favella’s son Sandy saw the commotion and tried to fight off the abductors, but withdrew when one pointed a gun at him, De Ocampo said.

Tutulungan sana niya ‘yung tatay niya dahil nakita niya dun sa labas, eh nung tinutukan na siya ng baril din, tumakbo na siya sa loob nung karinderya,” the police official said.

Parang mga bagito (ang mga abductor)… kasi nakipagsuntukan pa,” De Ocampo noted.

Three of the abductors took Favella with them on the pumpboat while the other two escaped on a motorcycle, he said.

Members of the local police, Navy, PNP Special Action Force, and Maritime Group scoured the shores and waters of Brgy. Maasin until Saturday morning, but found no sign of the abductors.

De Ocampo said there is a possibility that the abductors took Favella to Basilan so he alerted authorities there about the abduction.

Maasin, part of Zamboanga City’s 136-kilometer shoreline, lies in the east coast facing Basilan, he noted.

Intelligence operatives have also been ordered to check the coast thoroughly, De Ocampo added. (John Roson)

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2 rebels killed in Zambo Norte clash

Two suspected New People’s Army (NPA) members were killed in a clash with government troops in Leon B. Postigo, Zamboanga del Norte, Wednesday afternoon, the military said.

The clash also resulted in the wounding of another rebel and a soldier, as well as the recovery of an M16 rifle from the rebel side, Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

Members of the 10th Infantry Battalion were conducting security patrols in Sitio Napolan, Brgy.Tinuyop, around 3 p.m. when they encountered about 20 rebels, Caber said.

Lt. Col. Taharudin Ampatuan, commander of the 10th IB, said his troops went to the area to respond to reports that rebels were again extorting from residents.

The rebels fled after an hour of fighting, Ampatuan said, adding that troops were still conducting pursuit operations as of Wednesday evening. (John Roson)

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Sayyaf in arrested in Zambo mall

An alleged Abu Sayyaf member wanted for several kidnapping incidents and the Lamitan Siege was arrested inside a mall in Zamboanga City on Tuesday, police said.

Algaber Said, who has a P600,000 bounty on his head, was arrested at the Gateway Mall around 10:30 a.m., PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo said.

Members of the PNP Special Action Force, Air Force Intelligence and Security Group, and National Bureau of Investigation carried outh the arrest, he said.

Said, who uses the alias Talha, was allegedly involved in the kidnappings in Tumahubong, Golden Harvest Plantation, the Lamitan Siege – all in Basilan – and served as a “spotter” for the Abu Sayyaf’s kidnap-for-ransom activities, Cerbo said.

The suspect has been brought to the NBI Regional Office 9 for investigation, he said. (John Roson)

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