FIFTEEN fighters of two terror groups, including an Indonesian who said to be a companion of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) leader Isnilon Hapilon, were killed in a military airstrike in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
This was confirmed yesterday by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Ano.
Hapilon was reported to have been seriously wounded in the air attack.
Ano said they received intelligence report saying that more or less 15 members of the Maute and Hapilon groups died in the airstrike.
“May mga reported sa amin, intel-report, na more or less mga total of 15 yung patay dun sa ,mga Maute at Hapilon group, “ Ano said
One of the fatalities was an Indonesian companion of Hapilon identified only as alias Mohisen.
The AFP Chief of Staff said the operation is on-going and more clashes are forthcoming.
The Maute group is a local terrorist cell that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Ano said most of the enemy died in artillery assaults and the airstrike conducted by the military in Butig town.
The AFP chief also confirmed reports that Hapilon was badly wounded in the Butig operation needs to undergo blood transfusion and proper medical treatment.
“Kailangan niyang mag-blood transfusion, pag hindi siya magkaroon ng proper medical treatment baka mamatay siya, bedridden siya eh, hindi siya makalakad na,” Ano said.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Hapilon, who was said to be the one recognized by ISIS as its counterpart in the country, was seriously wounded in the military operation and was carried by an improvised stretcher by his men.
MILF BACKS DUTERTE
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is backing up President Rodrigo Duterte's call for Moro rebels to deny sanctuary to terror groups.
MILF First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar guaranteed there will be no shelter for terrorists in their territory in accordance with their peace deal with the government.
"Matagal na tayo sumusuporta sa kampanya kontra terorismo," Jaafar added.
He also affirmed support for Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs, promising that the MILF would not coddle any drug-tainted group.
Earlier, Duterte warned the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that he will order an attack on their camps if they coddle terrorists.
“I am pleading, do not allow the Maute and the other terrorist groups to seek refuge in your camps, otherwise mapipilitan ako sabihin sa Armed Forces na pasukin ninyo,” Duterte said in a speech when he visited soldiers who had been wounded in clashes with the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.
On Thursday night, the military launched an offensive against terror groups in Butig, Lanao del Sur.
The military operation aims to capture Abu Sayyaf senior leader Hapilon, who is now reportedly the “emir” or leader of the Islamic State group in the Philippines.
Duterte said he is prepared to engage in talks with extremists but not with the Islamic State.
“I still want peace. I’m ready to talk pati yung extremists kung ano ang correction na gusto ninyo but yung ISIS contamination, I can no longer control it,” the President said.