ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 12, 2009) – At least 10 Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in fierce fighting Wednesday in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.
Officials said troops stormed an Abu Sayyaf camp at around 3 a.m. in the village of Silangkum in Ungkaya Pukan town, sparking fierce clashes that left a still unknown number of military casualties.
“The fighting is still going and we cannot give out any details about the military casualties,” First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, a regional army spokeswoman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
She said soldiers have recovered at least 10 bodies of slain militants and improvised explosives and high-powered weapons from the Abu Sayyaf camp.
“The Western Mindanao Command launched a decisive law enforcement operation targeting the Abu Sayyaf main training camp in the province. Recovered from the camp were sizeable quantities of IEDs rigged to explode while others were ready for use,” Cacho said, adding at least 13 high-powered firearms were also seized by soldiers in the militant’s base.
Cacho said Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels negotiating peace with Manila was informed about the offensive operation against the Abu Sayyaf. “We have coordinated with the MILF and the Coordinating Committee for the Cessation of Hostilities to avoid clashes between rebels and troops in Basilan. Our operation targeted the Abu Sayyaf,” she said.
The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is fighting the past three decades for self-determination. Rebels are actively operating in Basilan. (Mindanao Examiner)