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ARMM government mourn deaths of soldiers in Basilan hostilities

Local News • 00:33 AM Tue Apr 12, 2016
John Unson
ARMM Gov. Mujib Hataman

COTABATO CITY -- The executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is mourning the deaths of 18 soldiers killed in firefights last Saturday in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chairman of the regional peace and order council, said eight of the slain combatants of the Army’s 44thInfantry Battalion were residents of ARMM. We mourn their deaths and pray for the recovery of the soldiers who sustained gunshot wounds and blast injuries during the encounter,” said Hataman, who hails from Sumisip town in the same province.The hostilities in Barangay Baguindanan, an isolated area in the municipality of Tipo-Tipo in Basilan, involved heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf bandits led by Isnilon Hapilon and 44thIB personnel running after them following last month’s takeover by soldiers of their lair in a nearby town.The soldiers were trying to break through a coconut farm west of Barangay Baguindan when the bandits, positioned at hills nearby, attacked from different directions with AK-47 Kalashnikovs, M14 and M-16 assault rifles.At least 18 soldiers were killed in the firefight, which resulted to the deaths of nine Abu Sayyaf gunmen, two of them believed to be Moroccans wearing shirts with insignia of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. What happened is a tragedy that once again reminds us that there are those among us who still tread the path of terror and stop at nothing to breed hatred and sufferings among our people,” Hataman said.Saturday’s military offensive against the Abu Sayyaf in Tipo-Tipo that went haywire was meant to flush the group out of their last bastion, Barangay Banguindan.The Abu Sayyaf in Basilan was behind the spate of recent roadside bombings and deadly attacks on soldiers guarding infrastructure projects in the island province, a component area of ARMM.

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