By Francis T. Wakefield
Five members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed in an encounter that also injured seven government soldiers Sunday morning at Bud Bawis, Brgy Kawasan, Panamao, Sulu.
Operating elements of Philippine Marine Ready Force Sulu and members of the Marine Battalion Landing Team – 3 together with the Marine Special Operations Group were conducting search and rescue operations for the remaining kidnap victims when they encountered an undetermined number of ASG members at about 4 a.m.
The bandits are said to be under the command of ASG leader Sansibar Bensio and ASG Sub-Leader Hatib Munap Binda.
The firefight lasted for more than an hour which resulted to the killing of five bandits and the recovery of an M14 rifle.
Four of the five killed ASG members were identified as Mikdad Juhurim, Annin Black, Tasom Hammiri, and Undil Husin while the other one is still being identified.
Meantime government forces who were wounded during the firefight were immediately evacuated to Panamao District Hospital for immediate medical attention before being airlifted to Kuta Heneral Teodolfo Bautista Station Hospital at Brgy Busbus, Jolo, Sulu.
Captain Maria Rowena B. Dalmacio, the Director of the Marine Corps Public Affairs Office, said the Marines had to be careful and precise in their tactical operations because it is believed that there are still kidnap victims being held by the ASG.