10 ASG members killed; AFP gaining grounds in Sulu

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Ten members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed in a firefight in Patikal, Sulu, Friday morning.

The victims include two kin of senior ASG leader Radullan Sahiron.

Operating troops of Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu encountered around 120 fully-armed members of the Rahiron-led ASG group while conducting rescue operations of kidnap victims, said Col. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of JTF Sulu.

The Armed Forces did not sustain any casualty in the encounter.

In a press release, AFP Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said the armed forces is "gaining grounds" in Sulu and Basilan after it has neutralized 26 ASG members.

Aside from the 10, four other ASG members were killed, six wounded, and four were apprehended within the past two weeks.

"We are gaining grounds because of the cooperation and support of the local government units and the different sectors of society and the swift reaction of troops to reports from civilians as to ASG members whereabouts," said WestMinCom Commander MGen Carlito G. Galvez Jr.

According to a press release, locals provided the information to operating troops that bandits carried with them wounded members while some were immediately buried in separate areas near the encounter sites.

ASG members Hamja Ummal, Asid Abdul Pagong, Kili Alvarez Sabtal, and Hamidid Pantasan were turned over in February 27 to the Basilan Provincial Police Office under Police Senior Superintendent Panapan for the filing of appropriate charges, according to the press release.

The AFP also discovered an ASG encampment and recovered improvised explosive device (IED) components.

The ASG group, known for its kidnap-for-ransom operations, recently beheaded a German national it held as captive for four months.