Abu Sayyaf militants killed nine people and wounded 16 in an early morning attack on a Basilan village today (Monday, August 21).
At least 20 Abu Sayyaf fighters opened fire on villagers and burned five houses and a village hall in the attack on Tubigan village in Maluso town. Among the dead were villagers and a militiaman.
Government militiamen were taken unawares by the dawn attack but later rallied to drive the attackers away after two hours of heavy fighting.
The militants fled and are now being pursued by government forces.
“Abu Sayyaf must have been hit hard by our operations over the weekend and opted to attack communities which they know are not supportive of them,” Basilan military commander Colonel Juvymax Uy said.
Regional Governor Mujiv Hataman condemned the attack, saying the militants wanted to divert the military’s focus from an ongoing offensive by attacking even children, women and the elderly.
“They are cowards because they couldn’t face their military adversaries,” he added.
Troops continued a month-long offensive over the weekend, seizing two Abu Sayyaf camps near Akbar town. Nine bombs and bomb materials were recovered by troops.
Troops killed three militants and wounded five others in a fire-fight near Akbar yesterday.
Troops also rescued a kidnapped Vietnamese sailor yesterday after nine months of captivity.
Do Trung Hieu was one of six Vietnamese crew members of a ship who were abducted near Sibago island off Basilan last November.
One Vietnamese escaped from the Abu Sayyaf in June but two others were found beheaded last month in Basilan.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen are still holding 14 foreigners and four Filipinos.