BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 19, 2011) – Government forces clashed Wednesday with Abu Sayyaf militants in the restive province of Basilan in the southern Philippines, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.
Officials initially said one soldier was wounded in the fighting that broke out at noon time in the town of Al Barka. “The fighting erupted in Al Barka and military operation is ongoing in the area,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.
He said a helicopter was deployed in Basilan to evacuate the wounded soldier who was shot by the militants in the chest.
Basilan military chief Colonel Nicanor Dolojan said troops clashed with about 50 militants headed by a notorious leader identified only as Commander Long.
“Troops are currently clearing the encounter site,” Dolojan said by phone from his base in Basilan.
He did not say if how many militants were killed or wounded in the fighting, but the Abu Sayyaf is still holding a wealthy Chinese-Filipino trader kidnapped in December in Basilan, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Just this month, army soldiers killed an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Patti Kabulot and his follower in a raid on a village in Tipo-Tipo town also in Basilan. Three days later, the Abu Sayyaf murdered five bedding merchants in Basilan’s Mohammad Adjul town.
The Abu Sayyaf has been largely blamed for the spate of terrorism and killings in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)