By Manny Mogato
JANUARY 19, 2020 — Troops killed a pro-Islamic State militant and destroyed a speed boat as they chased the Abu Sayyaf rebels who kidnapped five Indonesians in Sabah four days ago, an army general said on Sunday.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejano, Western Mindanao Command chief, said eight Indonesian fishermen were taken captive in the latest kidnapping case in the restive south on Thursday in Malaysian waters off Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Three were freed and reported the kidnapping to Malaysian authorities who alerted the Philippine military.
The alerted army troops spotted the group of Abu Sayyaf members when they landed in the coastline of Sulare island near Parang, Sulu at around 6 am on Saturday.
Sobejano said the troops killed one Abu Sayyaf member and destroyed a two-engine gray speedboat during the encounter.
He said there are indications the boat was used to kidnap the Indonesians.
“It (speed boat) was positively identified by the three (released) Indonesian fishermen to have been used in the abduction….They said there were six abductors aboard a gray twin-engine speedboat which we destroyed yesterday,” he said.
“The likelihood they are in Sulare Island or Parang, Sulu is very high…The probability is high,” said Sobejana, adding the search and rescue operations for the kidnap victims are focused in the area.
The small but brutal Abu Sayyaf has emerged as the primary threat group in the western Mindanao area after the goverment signed peace agreement with main Muslim rebel group in 2914.
The group is known kidnap-for-ransom, beheading and bombings on the islands of Jolo and Basilan.
Last week, troops had rescued the last of three Indonesian fishermen taken captive in Sabah last September.
The Wesmincom commander also reported the killing of four suspected Abu Sayyaf members following a clash with government troops in Lakit-lakit island in Sapa-Sapa town on Saturday night.
Citing initial information from the field, Sobejana said Marine forces were on a security operation in the area when they clashed with undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf men at around 6 p.m.
Sobejana said one of the troops was wounded but is “already out of danger.”
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