ZAMBOANGA CITY – A pursuit operation is underway for a group of gunmen who figured in a firefight with government troopers that resulted in the death of three soldiers in Basilan province.
In a statement Friday, Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, Joint Task Force (JTF) - Basilan commander, identified the target of the manhunt as the group of Abaas Jangkatan, a leader of lawless elements in Al-Barka town.
According to Gobway, Lt. Col. Cyril Santander, Army’s 18th Infantry Battalion (18IB) commander, said a team of the 18IB Charlie Company troopers clashed with a group of Jangkatan while they were on their way to their Hill 510 detachment in Barangay Magcawa, Al-Barka at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday to replace the troops in the outpost.
“The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes, after which the enemy withdrew towards Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo,” he said.
Gobway declined to release the identities of the slain soldiers pending notification of their respective families.
One of the slain soldiers was a corporal, while the other two were first-class privates.
Lt. Gen. Alfredo Rosario Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command, said he was "deeply saddened by the report that three of our brave soldiers were killed in action while performing their duties."
“We pray for their eternal repose, and we extend our commiseration to their bereaved families,” Rosario added.
He assured that the Army would work "doubly to prevent the enemies of the state from creating havoc in peaceful communities." (PNA)