ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 6, 2011) – A government soldier was killed and five more were wounded in a clash Wednesday with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Labah in Maimbung town after troops encountered some 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen under Umbra Jumdail alias Dr Abu, who was tagged as behind the string of bombings and kidnappings in Sulu.
“The firefight lasted about 15 minutes that resulted to five wounded and one killed on the government troops,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
He said an undetermined number of militants were believed killed or wounded.
“The Abu Sayyaf splintered into smaller groups in order to delay the operating troops that could give way to the enemy’s main group to escape from the area. The operations are going on,” he said.
The Abu Sayyaf is believed to be holding an Indian national who was kidnapped in Sulu’s Patikul town last month.
The victim Biju Kolaraveetil, 36, was visiting the family of his Filipina wife when gunmen seized him.
The motive of the abduction is still unknown, but authorities said it could be for ransom.
A Malaysian national - Mohammad Nasaruddin Bensaidin - who travelled to Sulu to buy geckos, was also kidnapped in April by suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in the village of Kajatian in Indanan town.
The 38-year old Malaysian arrived in Sulu from Kuala Lumpur and has been living in a house in Indanan town. The kidnappers have demanded P5 million ransoms for his safe release.
The government has repeatedly warned foreigners visiting Sulu to get in touch with authorities and get their police or military escorts because of threats of kidnappings for ransoms, but many of them ignored the warnings. (Mindanao Examiner)