Three Abu Sayyaf members, including the one who took part in the kidnapping of 21 European and Malaysian tourists in the Sipadan hostage crisis in 2000, were killed by Army Special Forces after they overran an Abu Sayyaf camp in Basilan on Tuesday.
The Army’s Office of Public Affairs said Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Angah Adjih, who snatched the tourists in the resort island of Sipadan, Malaysia, on April 23, 2000 was killed in the encounter with army soldiers in Talipao, Sulu.
Also killed was another Abu Sayyaf member identified as Sarih Edris.
The troops recovered M14 and M16 rifles, a grenade launcher, several magazines and ammunition.
The military claimed that Adjih was the last Abu Sayyaf sub-leader who snatched the 21 hostages from a motor boat from Sipadan and brought them to Jolo.
“The long arm of the law has finally caught up with these terrorists and criminals. We assure the people that we will do everything to keep Sulu safe and secure,” said Col. Antonio Nafarrete, 1101st Infantry Brigade commander.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said the series of encounters were the result of the growing support to the military of the civilian population who were tired of the atrocities committed by the Abu Sayyaf.
“The Joint Task Force Sulu, together with the local populace, remain steadfast with our mandate of bringing lasting peace in this part of the country,” Pabayo said.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto thanked the people for their trust and confidence in them.
“The Army will go after those who would want to harm our people and distract us from bringing peace and development to our countrymen in Sulu and in other parts of the country,” he said.
On March 5, another Abu Sayyaf member, Maldimar Mahmor, who the military said was involved in the Sipadan hostage incident, was arrested at his hideout in Zamboanga Sibugay.
The relentless hunt against the terrorists resulted in the capture of an Abu Sayyaf lair and the killing of a bandit in the aftermath of the fierce fighting in Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan.
Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command, identified the slain Abu Sayyf member as Adam Asarakil alias Abu Malik, a follower of Abu Sayyf leader Furidji Indama.