Southern Philippines: 1 Dead, 4 Wounded in Suspected Abu Sayyaf Raid

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
190715-PH-sayyaf-620.jpg Soldiers distribute pictures of Isnilon Hapilon, the former leader of the Abu Sayyaf militant group who had a U.S. government bounty of $5 million for his capture, at a checkpoint in Butig, Lanao del Sur, Philippines, Feb. 2, 2017.

Suspected Islamic militants killed one person and wounded several others during an attack on a government militia outpost on southern Basilan island, Philippine security officials said Monday.

Gunmen led by a man named Pasil Bayali, who is believed to be an Abu Sayyaf Group sub-leader in the area, attacked the outpost of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Sumisip town on Sunday morning, military officials said. CAFGU, the military’s auxiliary force, is often deployed in far-flung areas of the Philippines that lack regular forces.

“One was killed,” Basilan police provincial chief Col. Rufino Inot said identifying the victim as Norman Aramal, a member of the local militia. Four other people, including another CAFGU member and two children, both 11, were wounded.

Bayali’s group earlier had threatened to kill anyone who helped the civilian military unit in the area.

Inot said an investigation revealed that Aramal had arrived from the post and was fixing his makeshift hut when Bayali’s group fired at the outpost, leading to the casualties. The minors were playing nearby and were hit by shrapnel.

The militants escaped after the CAFGU members returned fire, the military said.

Last week, 49 former Abu Sayyaf members, who were among more than 200 former members of the group who had surrendered earlier, completed an alternative learning system program as part of their social reintegration in Basilan.

The Abu Sayyaf is a small gang of militants blamed for some of the worst atrocities in the country, including bombings, kidnappings and random killings.

A faction of the group headed by Isnilon Hapilon pledged allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group and led a siege of southern Marawi city by militants two years ago. More than 1,200 soldiers, militants and civilians were killed in a five-month battle that ensued.

Hapilon was killed at the end of siege, but other militants were believed to have escaped and entrenched themselves into armed groups in the Philippine south.

Hapilon is said to have been replaced by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, a little-known Abu Sayyaf leader on Jolo island, as the new head of the IS branch in the Philippines.

Philippine authorities suspect him of masterminding suicide bombings that killed 23 people at a church in Jolo in January and a bomb attack that left eight dead an army camp in Jolo last month.


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