Around 18 soldiers were killed in fierce fighting between Islamic militants in the southern part of the Philippines. The army was targeting an Abu Sayyaf Commander who has pledged allegiance to the IS. The soldiers were heading to attack the militants but along the way to the target, they were ambushed.
Colonel Benedict Manquiquis, spokesman for the army unit said, “Our group was heading to attack them. On the way, they were ambushed.”
The militants were hiding at a high ground and so they took complete advantage of the situation. The soldiers were like sitting ducks at the receiving end. The military’s casualties were high due to this situation.
More than 50 soldiers and 20 militants were injured in the clashes between the two groups. The army reported that 5 militants including a Moroccan national was also killed.
Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman Major Filemon Tan Jr. also reported that some soldiers were beheaded. However, he did not state the exact number, reported Phil Star Global.
The clash happened after 120 Abu Sayaff militants ambushed troops sent for an offensive to Barangay Baguindan. The fight went on for 10 hours.
Tan stated that the militants initially had the upper ground and were using high powered weapons and explosives. The very first fire exchange left many soldiers dead.
Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Hernando Iriberri said that Moroccan bomb expert Mohammad Khattab and Ubaib Hapilon, the son of Sayyaf leader were among the dead. Allegedly, Khattab is trying to join the Abu Sayyaf with international terrorist organisation. The Abu Sayyaf group was established in 1990s and funded by Al-Qaeda.
As reported by BBC, Government forces decided on an offensive after a series of abduction of foreigners. Recently, militants in the country released a video featuring three foreigner hostages and a Filipino woman pleading for their life. The foreign nationals pleaded for their countries to pay ransom to Abbu Sayyaf group.
On a similar news, last Friday a former Italian priest was released. He was in captivity for 6 months. Eighteen foreigners were abducted by militants in the country and are still believed to be held by the Abu Sayyaf group.