Monday, August 17, 2009

Government Forces Clashed Fiercely Against Lawless Groups in Basilan

Director, Naval Public Affairs Office

ASG’s major stronghold falls

In compliance to the order of the Commander–in-Chief President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to rid Basilan (and Sulu) of terrorists and lawless elements, security forces of the 1st Marine Brigade-led operations under the command of BGen Rustico Guerrero attacked known enemy lair at around 355AM 12Aug2009. The primary military objective is the terrorists’ nerve center-- training camp, and improvised explosive manufacturing base --located in Sitio Kurilem, Brgy. Silangkum,Tipo-tipo,Basilan Province. The Army’s Light Reaction Unit ferociously engaged around 50 lawless MILF groups-aided Abu Sayyaf terrorists believed to be under ASG leader Furuji Indama. Following the intense firefight that ensued, two air force UH-1H helicopters flew in around 5AM to evacuate wounded personnel. The attempt had to be aborted however when the aircrafts were met with heavy volleys of fire from the bandit groups. Air evacuation was successful conducted only at 820 AM and at 222 PM where casualties were flown to Zamboanga City.

At around 530 AM of the same day, Scout Rangers encountered more or less 150 heavily armed ASG & their cohorts at Hill 440 in the vicinity of Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-tipo. Fierce gun-battle raged between government forces & the bandit groups. Meanwhile, reinforcing Marines ferociously engaged more or less 70 combined ASGs & MILFs also in Baguindan, Tipo-tipo. The protracted firefights peaked at around 1130 in the morning and between 6 to 7 PM & subsided to sporadic engagements at around 830 in the evening. The field report reaching Headquarters Philippine Navy reveal that a total of 31 terrorists were killed in the clashes.

The lawless groups suffered heavy casualty –dead or wounded. Retrieval operations yesterday had to stop at nightfall. As of press time today 13 Aug 09, confirmed dead were ASG sub commanders Jony Poy, Abdullah Hud Limaya (son of Hud Limaya the commander of 2nd Brigade of MILF’s 114 Base Command), and 114 MILF Base Command Commander Ashib Salim. We are validating intelligence reports received that there were other ASG commanders who died during the skirmishes namely: Nurhasan Jamiri, Abdul Hud, and Moton Indama (purported brother of ASG commander Furuji).

From the initial tally of recovered firearms yesterday, the latest figure: four light machine guns, four M-14 rifles, five M203 grenade launchers, two rocket-propelled grenades, five M-16 rifles (two of them fitted with scopes), a “Baby Armalite” with M203 grenade launcher, five Minimi Squad Automatic Weapons, four units of Cellular phones, and a sizeable number of improvised explosive devices, bomb-making equipment and components.

“In successfully seizing the terrorist’s major stronghold in Barangay Silangkum,Tipo-tipo, Basilan and thus depriving the lawless groups of a strategic advantage, government troops suffered casualty”, MGEN Ben Mohammad D Dolorfino Commanding General, Western Mindanao Command mournfully declares . Twenty Three (23) were Killed-In-Action (including 2 junior officers) while 21 were Wounded-In-Action. The operation had been surgical and deliberate employing reasonable force to minimize collateral damage to life and property of civilians residing near the ASG stronghold.

“The Philippine Navy mourns the death toll and the injuries sustained by our operating units in Basilan”, says Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, Flag Officer in Command of the Philippine Navy. “But more than enemy body counts and recovery of their war materiel, the soldiers’ gain in taking Sitio Kurilem, Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-tipo Basilan and depriving the bandits of its staging area of its kidnapping, bomb-production, and other nefarious activities, are both tactical and strategic victories that these fallen soldiers won with their lives and limbs.”