Zamboanga City, Philippines. This past weekend Philippine troops clashed with over a hundred Islamic ISIS linked terrorists over the weekend, leading to heavy casualties on both sides, the military said on Monday.
Chief of the Western Mindanao Command Major General Carlito Galvez Jr., confirmed that heavy battles broke out in the south of the country between troops from the Joint Task Force Sulu and Abu Sayyaf Islamic forces in Talipao town as rescue operations for kidnap victims continued. The current body count by Philippine forces includes 10 Abu Sayyaf dead and 32 Philippine military personnel wounded.
Galves said soldiers had been acting on intelligence, searching for a number of Vietnamese hostages held by the terror group when a firefight broke out in Barangay Upper Laus. According to the military, the Abu Sayyaf is still holding a number of foreigners — among them nationals of Indonesia, Vietnam and the Netherlands — plus seven Filipinos.
“After the clearing operation, military reports from the ground disclosed that the Abu Sayyaf suffered heavy casualties as they were seen dragging their slain and wounded colleagues… Bloodstains were also seen in the areas where the bandits were positioned during the encounter,” he added.
In the last year it has taken several people hostage – Malaysian and Indonesian workers, Western tourists and one Filipina among them. Three groups of Indonesians and Malaysians were released earlier in 2016, but two Canadians, Robert Hall and John Ridsdel, were killed after the Canadian government refused to pay the ransom demanded for them.
Since 1991 in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion. It has pledged allegiance to ISIS.