FOUR members of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed, a kidnap victim drowned while another one was rescued in a firefight between government forces and the escaping bandits the other day in Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.
This was confirmed yesterday by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)-Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman Colonel Gerry Besana.
Besana said three of the four fatalities were recovered by government forces while the other one was left in the encounter site.
The kidnap victim who drowned was identified as a certain Hariadin, an Indonesian national while the one rescued was identified as Heri Ardiansyah, also an Indonesian.
Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the firefight occurred at around 5:45 pm at the seawaters off Simusa Island, Banguingui, Sulu.
Combined elements of Philippine Marines Ready Force Sulu (PMRFS) and Naval Task Group Sulu (NTGS) were conducting sea patrol operation in the northwest portion of the seawaters of Simusa Island when they spotted the escaping ASG members with the victims.
The report said the Abus used makeshift flotation devices to swim across the channel towards Bangalao Island to escape but when they saw the patrolling government forces they immediately used their guns that triggered the shootout.
The firefight lasted for about 10 minutes and led to the killing of four bandits and the rescue of two Indonesian kidnap victims. Unfortunately, one of them drowned.
The Marines tried to revive the victim but to no avail due to over-fatigue and weak physical condition after 41 days of evading pursuing government forces in Simusa Island.