BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Aug) – Two Abu Sayyaf gunmen were allegedly killed in fighting Tuesday with government soldiers in Basilan island, south of the Philippines, a military report said.
The report said the clash occurred near Tipo-Tipo town, but it was unclear whether the soldiers recovered the bodies of the slain militants.
The military usually reports intelligence information gathered from different sources whose confirmation was difficult to validate.
Security officials have previously said that more than 40 militants have been killed in clashes since last month, but only seven bodies were recovered on the island, which the military claimed in the past to be free from Abu Sayyaf since the government all out war in 2001.
A local news television, Chavacano Patrol, reported Tuesday night that a Muslim villager in Basilan came out in the open to say that one of Abu Sayyaf militants, Puruji Indama, reported killed by soldiers in a clash last week, is alive.
“I and my companion were gathering wild fruits when we saw Puruji and his group searching for his brother Umair. And they found Umair’s body near the river – his head is missing and both Umair’s hands were also chopped off,” the villager said, his face covered for fear of retaliation.
Marine Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander of a task force pursuing the Abu Sayyaf, denied soldiers decapitated the slain militant. “We don’t do those things,” he told the same television interview.
The military reported that the two brothers, tagged as behind the beheading of 10 Marines in Basilan island in fierce clashes on July 10, were killed in a fighting August 18. Fifteen Marines were also killed in the same fighting, the military said. (Mindanao Examiner)