A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

A report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited a report to officials including Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. indicating Filipinos are among the Southeast Asians being lured to conflict zones in the Middle East. Some Islamic militants are home-grown, just like the Abu Sayyaf (in photo), who have links with al-Qaeda terrorists. (Photo from http://vkb.isvg.org/Wiki/Groups/Abu_Sayyaf_Group_(ASG))

MANILA, Nov 15 (Mabuhay) — A brother-in-law of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullon Sahiron and a sub-commander of the extremist group were allegedly among those killed in a clash with Army Scout Rangers in Talipao, Sulu on Friday, the military said.

Joint Task Group Sulu commander Colonel Allan Arrojado identified Sahiron’s in-law as Beting Jakka and the sub-commander as Hairullah Asbang, who the military officer said was killed in a military air strike. The third reported Abu Sayyaf fatality was Hamer Absara.

However, the military acknowledged the identities of the slain extremists were based on reports from intelligence operatives and that none of the remains of the nine Abu Sayyaf fighters reportedly slain in the clash have been recovered.

The fighting also claimed the lives of five soldiers, while leaving 26 other troops and three Abu Sayyaf fighters wounded.

“As per official record that we have here, there were five soldiers killed and 26 others wounded. On the (Abu Sayyaf) side, they suffered nine killed and three wounded,” Captain Ma. Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said.

She did not, however, identify the military casualties as their families have not yet been informed.

She named the three wounded Abu Sayyaf fighters only as Abun, Sali and Almujahid.

Major Edilberto Aramponi, JTG Sulu civil-military operations officer, said the five-hour battle between 150 Scout Rangers against twice the number of Abu Sayyaf gunmen happened in two stages, breaking out in Barangay Bud Bunga at 1:50 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m.

The military had to call in strikes by attack helicopters to support the ground troops.

“There were other units present in the operation like the 35th Infantry Battalion and the Marines but it was the Scout Rangers who bore the brunt of the contact,” Aramponi said.

He added that all the military fatalities were Rangers.

Muyuela said more fresh troops had been inserted in the combat area to conduct pursuit operations against the gunmen, who had splintered into several groups.

She said that the clash actually involved three Abu Sayyaf bands, that led by Sahiron and those of Hatib Sawadjaan and Julie Ekit. (MNS)