Marine, 7 militants killed in weekend clashes in southern Philippines

Roel Pareño and Froilan Gallardo
Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Marine, 7 militants killed in weekend clashes in southern Philippines Injured Filipino soldiers arrive at a military hospital in Jolo, in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, after a clash with Abu Sayyaf militants, March 3, 2017.
Nickee Butlangan/AFP

Seven gunmen with suspected links to Abu Sayyaf militants were slain over the weekend by police hunting for a group leader wanted in connection with the 2009 killing of a police superintendent in the southern Philippines, officials said.

The gunfight in the Sulu Islands took place on Sunday, a day after a pro-Islamic State militant group ambushed a Marine patrol, leaving one of the troops dead and wounding three others in Lanao del Sur, another province in the volatile south.

In Sulu province, police launched a pre-dawn operation to arrest Juko Dahim, whose group had worked with Abu Sayyaf Group extremists in several operations, officials said. He was wanted for his alleged role in the ambush killing of Senior Superintendent Jularisim Kasim, the provincial police chief, 14 years ago.

“However, the heavily armed group of Alganer Dahim and Juko Dahim sensed the arrival of the operating units, triggering the firefight,” said Richard Verceles, operations chief of the Area Police Command for Western Mindanao.

Members of the Sulu field unit of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, police commandos and other units were involved in Sunday’s operation.

Verceles said seven militants, including Juko Dahim, were killed in the 40-minute firefight. Two suspects were arrested and several high-powered assault rifles, ammunition and other war materials were recovered. A junior officer and two civilians were injured as well.

Alganer Dahim escaped and is the subject of a manhunt, police said.

According to police, Juko Dahim and his group were members and supporters of dead Abu Sayyaf kidnap-for-ransom sub-leader Majan Sahidjuan (alias Apo Mike), whose group was blamed for cross-border kidnappings in Sabah, a state in nearby Malaysian Borneo.

Verceles said Juko was involved in kidnapping activities and armed encounters with government forces, killing civilians and illegal drug trade.

Saturday attack

A day earlier, suspected Maute-Daulah Islamiyah militants launched a deadly ambush of the Marine patrol in Marogong, a town in Lanao del Sur. The Maute group is one of many factions of Daulah Islamiyah, the local name for the Islamic State extremist group.

“The Marines were not in uniform and were just bringing their short firearms because they were conducting community relations in the village,” Lt. Col. Sergio Reyes Ronquillo, commander of the 2nd Marine Battalion Landing Team, told reporters.

Ronquillo said Marine Sgt. Tonti Melbert Pamaran, who was leading the patrol, was killed instantly. Despite their injuries, the three wounded Marines fought the militants until reinforcements from a nearby camp arrived.

Previously, Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner had said that the Daulah Islamiyah militants were losing strength after government troops attacked their camp in Maguing, Lanao del Sur, last March.

He said the militants numbered about 25 and were led by Faharudin Hadji Satar (also known as Abu Bakar or Abu Zacaria).


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