ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 13, 2009) – Security forces clashed Saturday with Abu Sayyaf militants holding a kidnapped Italian aid worker in Sulu province in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted at around 9 a.m. in the village of Sionogan in Indanan town where police and marines pursuing the Abu Sayyaf caught up with some 100 militants. “The firefight is going on,” First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, a regional military spokeswoman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
She did not say if there were government or enemy casualties, but other reports said as many as six people were killed on the military side and more than a dozen more injured in the fighting.
On Friday, the military said at least militants were killed in two days of fierce clashes that also left five soldiers wounded.
The Abu Sayyaf is still holding Eugenio Vagni, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, since January when he and two others – Swiss national Andreas Notter and Filipino Mary Jean Lacaba – were kidnapped after they inspected a humanitarian project at prison in Patikul town.
Both Notter and Lacaba had been freed separately by the Abu Sayyaf. Police and military said there were no reports about Vagni.
Police forces also rescued two Muslim humanitarian workers seized by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu’s Talipao town on Thursday.
Sulu police chief, Senior Superintendent Muhibuddin Ismail said the two men - Aspin Giminsil, 39, and Kadspar Abduhasan, 22, - were rescued in Talipao after police forces pursued the Abu Sayyaf led by Mukambiyan Sakilan and recovered the hostages.
The duo is working for the Alliance for Mindanao for Off-grade Renewable Energy and Integrated Learning System for Moslem Highlanders. He said the two men, who are natives of Tawi-Tawi province, are humanitarian workers. (Mindanao Examiner)