By AARON RECUENCO
Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) killed three government militiamen and wounded seven others in an ambush in Sumisip, Basilan, yesterday morning, a military official said.
Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Joint Task Force Basilan, said an ASG member identified only as a certain Bakring was also killed in the ensuing gun battle. His cadaver was recovered.
He identified the three fatalities from the government side as Nulmer Lumbos, Buddo Hatula, and Papang Manjapal.
Visaya said seven other members of the Special Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit Active Auxiliary (SCAA) were wounded during the ambuscade that occurred at around 6 a.m. yesterday in Barangay Tumahubong.
“They were on board a truck conducting regular patrol when they were attacked by more or less 10 Abu Sayyaf,“ said Visaya in a phone interview.
The official said the regular patrol of the SCAA in Basilan is part of the security measures being implemented to protect rubber plantation owners from the ASG.
“The Abu Sayyaf has been sending demand letters to them, asking P50,000 every month. In this area, the owner does not give them anything,“ said Visaya in explaining the possible motive of the ambush.
He said there were some 10 to 15 SCAA conducting patrol at the time of the attack.
The attackers are reportedly under Furuji Indama, the highest ranking ASG leader in Basilan.
From gaining international notoriety over high-profile kidnappings in the past, the military said the ASG is now mainly engaged in extortion activities following the deaths of its top leaders.
Quoting intelligence reports, Visaya said they have already reduced the ASG force to below 53 as of November last year.