Suspected members of Daesh-linked Abu Sayyaf captured amid operation in troubled southern Basilan
By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines – Three suspected members of a Daesh-linked militant group have been captured in the Philippines’ troubled south in an operation following a fatal weekend clash that killed 18 soldiers.
Major Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said Wednesday, “the three suspected Abu Sayyaf members were captured on the operational ground in Tipo-Tipo” — a town in the island province of Basilan, a stronghold of the group.
He did not provide more details about the arrest, and did not name the suspects as they were under tactical interrogation.
Tan said that no casualties were reported in recent clashes during the ongoing offensive in Tipo-Tipo.
The military has deployed around five battalions and additional strike force companies tasked with pursuing a group believed to consist of 70 to 80 members under the leadership of Isnilon Hapilon — whose son was reportedly among the five militants initially reported dead in Saturday’s firefight.
When asked to confirm if another senior Basilan-based Abu Sayyaf leader, Furuji Indama, was killed in recent fighting with government forces, Tan responded, “reports reached me, he Furuji Indama was critically wounded.”
He added that more than 20 militants had been killed in the days-long operation.
The 10-hour long clash Saturday also left 53 soldiers and around 20 Abu Sayyaf members wounded.
According to the military, many of the wounded militants may have succumbed to their injuries.