Troops kill senior Abu Sayyaf leader in southern Philippines

BenarNews staff
Zamboanga, Philippines
Troops kill senior Abu Sayyaf leader in southern Philippines Members of the Abu Sayyaf Group gather at an undisclosed site on the Philippine island of Basilan in this undated photo.

Troops killed a top-ranking Abu Sayyaf Group leader during a gunfight on the southern Philippine island of Basilan, the military said Saturday.

Radzmil Jannatul (also known as Khubayb), was killed in a clash with members of the elite Scout Rangers in the village of Baiwas on Friday afternoon, said Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, commander of the 101st Brigade and Joint Task Force Basilan. No other injuries were reported.

“The troops conducted clearing [operations] at the encounter site and recovered the body of the killed Abu Sayyaf Group member who was later identified to be Jannatul,” Gobway told reporters, adding the gunfight was quick, but intense.

Gobway said troops were tracking followers of Jannatul in the jungles of Basilan’s Sumisip town on Saturday.

Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr. lauded the troops’ efforts, adding Abu Sayyaf members in Basilan have been driven deep into the jungles. 

“This will totally weaken the group and force the remaining members to give up their fight and save themselves,” Rosario told reporters.

The Abu Sayyaf is divided into several factions – one is led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and is based on another southern island. While Sawadjaan is considered the top Islamic State militant in the country and has been blamed for deadly bombings on Jolo Island in 2019 and 2020, he has not been heard from since July 2020 and is believed to have been killed in a clash with government troops. 

Gobway said Jannatul was the top-ranking Abu Sayyaf commander in Basilan, where the group was founded in the 1990s ostensibly to fight for an Islamic state. It degenerated into a group specializing in kidnappings-for-ransom targeting local businessmen, clergy members and foreign tourists and other criminal enterprises. 

He said Jannatul succeeded Basilan group leader Furuji Indama who was killed in late 2020.

On Saturday, troops battled with at least seven Abu Sayyaf members in the jungles near Patikul town in Sulu. Col. Alaric Delos Santos, civil-military operation chief of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said troops from the 41st Infantry Battalion encountered them near a village that was recently cleared of militants.

Delos Santos said the Abu Sayyaf members escaped but left behind an M16 assault rifle and personal belongings. No injuries were reported.


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