Jolo church bombing suspect, another Abu Sayyaf member killed in Sulu clash

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ZAMBOANGA CITY — Two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits, including a suspect in the January 27 Sulu church bombing, were killed while three soldiers were wounded in an intense firefight in Sulu, military officials announced.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the firefight broke out in Barangay Bangkal, Patikul, Sulu at about 3:45 p.m. on Monday.

Pabayo said troops of the Army’s 41st Infantry Battalion were on combat operation when they clashed with some 40 bandits under ASG sub-leader Almujer Yada.

He said the firefight, “supported by indirect fires and close-air support,” lasted 40 minutes, resulting in the death of ASG bandits Barak Ingog and Nasser Sawadjaan.

Pabayo said Ingog was involved in the explosion at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, which killed 18 people and injured 80 others.

Sawadjaan was the nephew of ASG sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Pabayo said the troops recovered an M-16 armalite rifle and personal belongings from Ingog.

“Three of our troops were also slightly hurt due to shrapnel wounds but they are now fine,” he said.

“We also received information from residents in the area, who are also monitoring and reporting the whereabouts of the bandits in order to rid their presence in the community, that they overheard that another high-value ASG sub-leader is missing and probably dead, which is subject to the clearing and pursuit operations of our troops right now,” Pabayo added.

Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said he is impressed with the sustained efforts and initiatives of the Joint Task Force Sulu troopers, who are worth recognizing.

“Their focus and dedication showcase the commitment, not only to end the menace brought by the ASG in Sulu that hampers peace, but also of performing the soldiers’ mandate to protect the safety of the people in the locality,” dela Vega added. (PNA)