World Bulletin / News Desk
Twelve Philippine soldiers were wounded Sunday after accidentally triggering an explosive in southern Basilan province amid operations against the al-Qaeda-kinked Abu Sayyaf, according to the military.
Major Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said the incident brought the total number of troops injured since last week to 26, while three others had lost their lives.
Since the military offensive was launched, at least 26 Abu Sayyaf fighters have been killed and 16 others injured, the state-run Philippine News Agency reported.
"We are also checking reports from the field that among the slain militants was Malaysian jihadist Mohammad Hussein a.k.a. Abu Anas. This is subject for confirmation," Tan said.
He added that the operations had wrapped up later in the day with the capture of an Abu Sayyaf encampment in Macalang village equipped with 28 structures, including 10 dug-in bunkers, and capable of accommodating around 250 people.
Earlier in the day, authorities had blamed the militant group for a homemade bomb that rocked the commercial district of Lamitan city after midnight, damaging a building but resulting in no casualties.
Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes, Basilan police chief, said "an unidentified person left an improvised explosion device in front of the said financial service company, but we suspect that the Abu Sayyaf and other extortion groups are behind the attack."
Meanwhile, in the nearby island province of Sulu, three bombs were discovered along a road near an abandoned military detachment in Indanan town.
Brigadier Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Group Sulu commander, said the improvised explosive devices “targeted government forces who frequent the area."
ABS-CBN News reported that the explosives have been detonated by security forces.
Fighting between security forces and the Abu Sayyaf has been ongoing for a week following orders by President Benigno Aquino III to intensify military operations against the group.
The directive came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called upon authorities to take action in mid-November after a Malaysian national kidnapped from a seaside town in the country was beheaded in Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf -- based primarily out of Sulu and Basilan – is believed to still be holding around eight hostages, including foreigners of Dutch, Canadian, Norwegian and Italian nationality.
Since 1991, the group -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
While the Abu Sayyaf claims to have pledged allegiance to ISIL, Philippine security officials have downplayed reports by saying that the Middle East-based group does not have a presence in southern Mindanao island.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Aralık 2015, 16:45