FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City---One soldier lay dead while three others were wounded in the fresh fighting that erupted in the jungles of Basilan province yesterday (Mar 15), a military official said.
Colonel Ricardo Visaya, the commander of the 104th Brigade which has jurisdiction of the whole island province, said that he sent the crack troops from the Special Operations Task Force composed of Scout Rangers and Special Forces led by Colonel Ramon Yogyog, in order to check the information about the build-up of terrorist forces in a hinterland village of Sumisip town.
"Our trusted informants told us that at least 40 rebels led by Furuji Indama and Khair Mundus are encamped in the forests with their new recruits. They were allegedly training the recruits on bomb-making which they normally used in terrorizing people in the area," said Visaya.
While scouring the thickly-forested village of Baiwas, soldiers belonging to the 12th Scout Ranger Company led by Captain Gerald Penzona encountered the main group of the rebels at 11:00am.
The rebels immediately fled after trading gun fire with the soldiers for at least two hours, leaving behind at least 30 improvised bombs which were planted along the trails.
As the soldiers tracked the fleeing rebels, another firefight erupted at about 5:00pm involving a platoon of the 10th Scout Ranger Company led by 1st Lieutenant Arcel Soco . One soldier was killed while three others were wounded in the 45-minute clash that ensued.
The wounded soldiers who sustained shrapnel wounds include Pfc Daniel Resultan, Pfc Cresencio Sagaysay and Pvt Symons Mark Subito. The identity of the dead soldier is withheld pending notification of his immediate relatives.
The casualties were promptly treated by the Army's combat medics before they were airlifted by night-capable Air Force choppers to a military hospital in Zamboanga City early in the evening.
As of this today, Mar 16, pursuit operations are jointly conducted by the Army forces with the local police, backed by the Philippine Air Force.
Visaya said that the soldiers remain committed to pursue the terrorists in their jungle lairs.
"In the spirit of Bayanihan, we would like to extend our appreciation to the villagers who are helping us locate these hardened criminals. It is our job to protect the people from these armed bandits who have remained as potent threats against the peace and security in the area," said Visaya.