Philippine Army suffers huge combat loss in firefight with Abu Sayyaf

Image by Mike Gonzalez/CC BY-SA 3.0
  • The Abu Sayyaf k****d 18 soldiers during an almost 10-hour long firefight in Basilan
  • At least 52 other soldiers were wounded in the clash
  • 5 Abu Sayyaf members, including a Moroccan national, were k****d in the encounter

The Philippine Army suffered a great combat loss as 18 soldiers were k****d during an intense firefight with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Basilan on Saturday, April 8. At least 52 other members of the government troops were wounded.

The clash took place in Barangay Baguindan in Basilan’s Tipo Tipo town a day after the former missionary priest Rolando del Torchio, who was held hostage by the ASG for six months, was freed.

Major Filemon Tan, the spokesman of the Philippine Army’s Western Mindanao Command, said 5 Abu Sayyaf fighters were also k****d in the encounter, including one foreign terrorist – a Moroccan national identified as Mohammad Khattad.

Ubaida Hapilon, the son of ASG senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, was also reportedly k****d in the firefight.

Maj. Tan said the clash broke out at around 7:55 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. The Army’s 4th Special Forces Battalion and the 44th Infantry Battalion were involved in the fight against an estimated 120 heavily-armed insurgents.

Julie Alipala of Inquirer wrote in an article dated April 9, 2016 that a source who declined to be named for lack of authority to release sensitive information, said a platoon and an officer were wiped out during the clash.

Four of the slain soldiers were beheaded by the ASG, the source added.

Department of National Defense Secretary Volatire Gazmin and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Hernando Delfin Carmelo Iriberri are set to fly to Basilan to meet with the ground commanders and visit the wounded soldiers.