GOVERNMENT troops killed a member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Sunday in Sulu as a military operation in another province has forced the evacuation of hundreds of villagers.
The ASG member was slain as the military pursued members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao, 683 kilometers southwest of Jolo.
Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander of the military’s Joint Task Group Sulu, identified the killed ASG member as Haber Qudama, alias Abu Qudama. Arrojado said Qudama was killed in a shootout with security forces during a special intelligence operations at Sitio Annur, Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu.
Arrojado said Qudama was a member of the ASG under a subleader known as Sibih Pishi, whose unit operates in the municipalities of Indanan, Parang and Maimbung. Qudama died at around 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, after he engaged a joint team of policemen and soldiers who were serving a warrant of arrest against him, according to Arrojado.
Arrojado said pending warrants of arrest against Qudama covered his involvement in the Sipadan kidnapping and the Pearl Farm kidnapping in Samal, Davao del Norte, in May 2001.
Meanwhile, soldiers continued to pursue members of the BIFF who attacked troops guarding a government project in the outskirts of Datu Salibo, a sixth-class municipality in the province of Maguindanao.
The attack occurred on Friday evening against soldiers and armored personnel carriers (APCs) guarding the project at Sitio Dagading, Barangay Tee, Datu Salibo. An officer identified as Capt. Amoloy, commander of the Army’s Second Mechanized Battalion, was slightly wounded, according to the military.
The attack carried out by groups of four BIFF commanders has forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents. The 2010 census placed residents in the municipality at 15,062 in 4,255 households. The BIFF commanders identified as Bungos, Abusaiden, Kagui Tatang and Ustadz Roman were supported by snipers, according to the military.
Using APCs against the attacking BIFF contingent, the soldiers evacuated the workers and secured construction equipment, the military said. However, a backhoe was damaged during the firefight.
Capt. Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID), said soldiers were pursuing the attackers, while additional forces were deployed to augment the 1st Mechanized Battalion in securing the government project.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Edmundo Pangilinan, 6th ID commander, said the military is prepared for any scenario associated with lawmakers’ failure to pass the Bangsamoro basic law (BBL). Pangilinan said one of the scenarios may involve renewed conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“We are [always] prepared for any eventualities,” Pangilinan said.
He added there seems to be a détente in between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF on the peace front even with the nonpassage of the BBL, which the latter had pushed.
“We do not feel anything; they do not have any manifestation [for trouble]. The MILF leadership has said with or without the BBL, they will pursue peace. And that’s a good sign,” Pangilinan said. Rene Acosta