At least six Abu Sayyaf terrorists, an Army sergeant and the deputy commander of the 32nd Infantry Battalion were killed in separate gunbattles in the provinces of Basilan and Sulu on Monday, officials said.
Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the army’s 104th Brigade, said Major Alin Kannung and Sgt. Ferdinand Costan were killed when about 30 Abu Sayyaf terrorists ambushed in Albarka town a convoy of army trucks on its way to distribute goats and medicines to Barangay Bohe Piyang in Basilan.
“Government forces were subjected to mortar and sniper fires for three hours,” Galvez said. “Six terrorists were killed during the fighting.”
The convoy of six army trucks carrying 180 soldiers included personnel from the Office of the President that were part of a medical mission. The civilians were employees of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, which has several on-going projects in Barangay Bohe Piyang.
Kannung has been a target of the Abu Sayyaf because of his efforts to bring about peace in the province. He is part of the monitoring team on peace talks with the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Galvez said the ambush was a retaliation by the Abu Sayyaf after the army overran a terrorist camp and killed eight terrorists in Tipo-Tipo town last April 15, and the ambush area was the same place where the terrorists killed 12 marine soliders in a gunbattle in 2007.
He said Kannung and Kosan were killed on the spot by snipers and after about four hours of fighting the terrorists withdrew, leaving behind their dead.
In Camp Aguinaldo, military spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan said Kannung was deeply involved in development projects and “was part of the team conducting road projects in the area.”
Officials said at least six battalions of more than 3,000 soldiers wer deployed in the povince to hunt down about 200 Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
In Sulu, the Abu Sayyaf killed a sergeant and a corporal of the Philippine Marines before noon and fled before security forces arrived at the scene, military officials said.
A military spokesman said the identities of the two soldiers were being withheld pending notification of their next of kin. A marine contingent has been sent to pursue the terrorists, he said. With Florante Solmerin
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