Two children were among eight people killed when Abu Sayyaf terrorists launched a raid on government troops at a Sulu Island village.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said that a one-year old and 12-year-old were among the fatalities when militants attacked Igasan village today (Saturday, May 26). He added that six Abu Sayyaf fighters were killed and seven wounded during the 30-minute firefight.
He also said that three soldiers and two civilians — a 60-year old man and a 17-year old mother — were wounded.
Troops of the 6th Special Forces Battalion had been in the village for a five-day dialogue with residents when about 30 Islamic State-affiliated terrorists launched their raid.
“They were about to conclude their dialogue with the community when more than 30 armed bandits stormed, unmindful of the presence of civilians,” Brig. Gen. Pabayo said.
“The dialogue was about development projects to be implemented in the community. The soldiers only wanted to elicit commitment to ensure local support for the programme.”
The dialogue programme is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to reach out to communities formerly sympathetic to the islamist militants.
Brig. Gen. Pabayo identified one of the wounded soldiers as Second Lieutenant Christian Capiz. The platoon leader had been hit while rescuing three children from being caught in the crossfire.
“I could have easily withdrawn my troops to a safer position but I cannot leave behind the trapped and panicking children,” Lt. Capiz said. “So I ordered my men to hold their position and prevent the advance of the Abu Sayyaf at all cost.”
In a press release, Brig. Gen. Pabayo has urged the people of Sulu to continue in their support of government forces. “I urge the peace-loving Tausugs to strongly condemn this unislamic and treacherous acts of the Abu Sayyaf Group,” he said. “Let us remain firm with our resolve in putting an end to this senseless killing of innocent civilians.”
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