ZAMBOANGA CITY—Troops tracking down Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits have discovered a lair of the Daesh-inspired elements in the hinterlands of Basilan province, a top military official said Monday.
Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force (JTF)-Basilan commander, said the ASG hideout was found Sunday and cons isted of three houses with foxholes each that can accommodate 10 persons at one time.
Troops chanced upon the hideout barely a day after an intense firefight in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Saturday. The encounter resulted in the wounding of six ASG men and a soldier.
“The troops did not find any firearms or war matériel inside the lair,” Gobway said in a statement Monday.
Saturday’s firefight broke out around 8:30 a.m. after government troops received reports about the bandits’ presence in Barangay Baguindan.
Gobway said the ASG extremists involved in the clash are followers of a certain Abaas, who were responsible for the May 31 twin bombing in Isabela City, Basilan.
He said the followers of Abaas are remnants of slain Basilan ASG leader Furuji Indama, who was killed in a clash with government troops on September 9 in the coastal town of R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief, said that since January this year, 77 ASG bandits have been neutralized by government troops. At least six of the group’s sub-leaders have also surrendered.
At least 40 areas in Basilan and Sulu provinces have also been so far cleared of ASG presence, Rosario said.