54 Killed In Sulu Fighting

JOLO, Sulu - Fighting broke out on Sunday between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the jungles of Patikul town in Sulu, leaving at least 54 fighters from both sides dead and several others wounded.

The fighting was still raging yesterday, authorities said.

Habib Mudjahib, chair of the Islamic Command Council of the MNLF, said as of noontime yesterday, the MNLF had suffered 23 killed, including MNLF commander Rizal and seven of his fighters who were beheaded by the ASG extremists.

He said about 31 ASG members were also killed and several others wounded as a result of the encounter between the two groups that started on Sunday morning in the mountain village of Barangay Buhanginan in Patikul.

Related story: Militants free Filipinos seized with Jordanian journalist

Before the fighting erupted, an MNLF senior field leader said former MNLF commander Ustadz Habier Malik had expressed disgust with the un-Islamic acts of the ASG in the province and vowed to eliminate them quickly to make Sulu a peaceful province once again.

Reports said Ustadz Malik gathered some 3,000 fully armed men on Sunday and then launched an attack on the lair of the ASG in Kuta Masarin, Patikul.

Sources said Malik's group decided to attacked the ASG lair after they failed to gain custody of Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani, who has been held captive by the ASG since June last year in the mountainous areas of Patikul.

Also read: PH at 'very high risk' of defense corruption

On Saturday night Filipino television crewmen Roland Letrero and Ramelito Vela were released by the ASG.

Prior to the release of the two Filipino hostages, the ASG had been demanding P130 million for the safe release of their three captives.

Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra, director of the Sulu Police Provincial Office, said the fighting appeared to have been triggered by a clan war, locally called rido, between members of the two groups.

"This could be an offshoot of rido between the two groups," said Freyra.

He said both the police and the military would not take the risk of meddling in the conflict, noting that the area where the clashes occurred may be part of an area under MNLF influence. Government forces could not also just enter in the area he said.

A military official earlier said many of the MNLF and ASG forces in the area are actually relatives.

Related story: PH among most terrorism-hit countries


It was recalled that in several instances, the military had accused some erring MNLF members of either reinforcing the ASG bandits in a clash with the military or coddling bandits in distress.

Initial reports revealed that the MNLF fighters were led by a certain Commander Malik while the ASG fighters were under Radullan Sahiron.

It was not clear, however, if Commander Malik is Habier Malik, the highest-ranking commander of MNLF in Sulu, who earlier led a large band of his fighters to the ASG lair in Patikul to demand for the unconditional release of all the remaining hostages, including Atyani.

So far, Freyra said their focus is on the displaced families, reportedly numbering about 30, who were forced to abandon their homes for fear of being caught in the crossfire.

Freyra, however, said the clashes had already stopped as of yesterday.

Meanwhile, Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan said the provincial government has adopted appropriate measures to ensure the "safety and welfare" of the civilians living near the encounter sites.

Tan said the provincial government is ready to assist civilians fleeing their homes as a result of the fighting between the two groups.

He said he has ordered the Provincial Social Welfare and Development (PSWD) to provide all the needed assistance to the families affected by the conflict.

He said evacuation centers have been readied in case more families flee their homes to escape from being hit in a cross-fire.

The police and military said they are now securing the adjacent town of Patikul to prevent a spillover of the conflict. Police and Marines have been placed on a heightened state of alert.

Meanwhile, Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos, Jr., the AFP spokesman, said troops from the 2nd Marine Brigade had been deployed to the area to prevent a spillover of the armed clash.

"The situation is now under control and AFP troopers are now working closely in assisting the municipal government and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in addressing internally displaced persons (IDP) from MNLF families near Barangay Kabuntakas, Patikul, Sulu," said Burgos.

Col. Orlando De Leon, the 2nd Marine Brigade commander, said the fighting started shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday. He added that around 250 ASG bandits and 300 MNLF fighters figured in the fierce firefight that lasted until around noon time.

Burgos said one of those killed in the MNLF side was identified as Wahab Omar.

From the ASG, one of those killed was identified as Ulod Assam.

"The AFP was successful in containing the violent incident between the MNLF and ASG forces in a small area in Barangay Kabuntakas, Patikul, Sulu. Our troops and the PNP's timely response with the assistance of the PNP helped in avoiding possible spill over of violence to outlying areas," said Burgos.

According to the AFP spokesman, minimal displacement was recorded with 60 families affected by the violent incident. (With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco, Elena L. Aben)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral
    China subs outnumber US fleet – admiral

    China is building some “fairly amazing submarines” and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top US Navy admiral told US lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior. Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR
    Pacman mega fight tax exemption up to Congress, BIR

    Malacañang is leaving it up to Congress and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to consider a proposed special tax exemption for boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in his much-awaited fight with Floyd Mayweather. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said yesterday it will have to be discussed by Congress because lawmakers are the ones who enact tax exemptions, special or general. Pacquiao has been dogged by unsettled tax obligations with the BIR. …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options