5 Abu Sayyaf bandits nabbed in Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/22 June) – Government troops captured early today five suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits and seized high-powered firearms in a raid on the group’s camp in the hinterlands of Basilan, the military said.

Col. Alex Macario, Special Operations Task Force-Basilan (SOTF-B) commander, said the suspects were captured around 5:30 a.m. at Block 17, Barangay Upper Cabengbeng, Sumisip town.

He said the troops from the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion and 4th Special Forces Battalion carried out the raid following the reported encampment of Abu Sayyaf bandits in the area.

Macario withheld the names of the suspects while still being investigated.

Confiscated from the suspects were an M653 rifle with scope, three M-16 Armalite rifles, a Carbine rifle, two rifle grenades, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Macario said.

The suspects, however, claimed they do not own the weapons although they were at the camp at the time of the raid, Macario said.

He said the troops also confiscated from the camp five sets of camouflage soldier’s uniform, four combat boots and cellular phones.

Macario said the raid was part of the continuous operation against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who are still holding captives two people, including a Filipino-Chinese businessman. Largio Tam delos Santos was kidnapped last December 16 from his resort in Barangay Lanote, Isabela City, the capital of Basilan province.

Nico Sebastian, 16, was seized last May 16 when he went out to play billiard games in Lamitan City. (MindaNews)