SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 22, 2008) – The Philippine military on Saturday lauded soldiers involved in a clash with Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province that left one gunman dead.
Marine soldiers killed Nelson Bin Ricson in the village of Pansul in Patikul town Friday after a 15-minute fire fight with a band of Abu Sayyaf militants. Village leader Basir Asil earlier identified the dead militant as Nixon Arbison, believed to be under Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Juhurim Hussin and Kirrih Hamid Sahiron.
“Every terrorist neutralized and every weapon seized signifies that the country has been rid of a serious threat making every Filipino existence safer,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, the new commander of the anti-terrorist Joint Task Force Comet.
Sabban, a decorated combat officer, took over the task force previously held by Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, who recently retired. He was the former deputy chief of the Western Mindanao Command.
The military said soldiers recovered an M16 rifle from Ricson, including 15 magazines and 170 ammunition, a cellular phone, maps, his wallet containing identification cards, an army camouflage uniform, a jungle pack, bonnet and other personal belongings.
Sabban assured the public that the military will continue to pursue the Abu Sayyaf group tied to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya and bring peace to Sulu.
“Even as we tread in the right path, the end still lies ahead; there is still so much to do. There are efforts from the enemies to regain what they have lost; it is our job to prevent them as we go onwards with our tasks,” Sabban said.
He attributed the success of the military operation to the support of the civilians and local government officials.
“The heightened alertness and vigilance of the people here significantly helped our troops in their operations against the ASG. Hence, we are grateful for the support and cooperation,” he said. (Nickee Butlangan)