Philippine military storm Abu Sayyaf camp

The Philippine military’s claims are yet to be independently confirmed. Source: Wikimedia 

After a week-long series of attacks by Philippine troops, a Muslim extremist camp has been captured, the military claim. 

A total of 26 militants and three soldiers had died, a spokesman said.

Soldiers captured the Abu Sayyaf camp in the forests of Basilan, a southern island. 

A bomb left behind by the rebels injured 12 soldiers on Sunday, Major Filemon Tan announced.

“After we captured the camp, they were clearing the bunkers when the IED [improvised explosive device] exploded,” he said.

About 300 soldiers, supported by artillery and combat helicopters, attacked the insurgents on Basilan about 885 kilometres south of Manila.

About 150 Abu Sayyaf militants were engaged, the army estimated. 

While claiming to have killed 26 insurgents, Tan said the bodies were not recovered. 

“The populace of the area, they confirmed it. They were buried at once according to Muslim tradition. Others were seen by our troops, being shot, falling and not getting up,” he said.

The remaining forces scattered in the face of the assault and were being pursued, he said. 

Sixteen Abu Sayyaf fighters were also wounded along with 14 soldiers before the IED blast on Sunday, Tan added.

Pursuit operations were continuing against the remnants of the Abu Sayyaf group and its leaders in Basilan, he said.

The captured camp could accommodate about 250 people with 28 buildings including fortified bunkers, the military said.

Impoverished Basilan has about 400,000 residents and has long hosted Abu Sayyaf. 

Elsewhere, Malaysian police have announced that a DNA sample from a severed head found in Jolo, a different Philippine island, matches that of slain Malaysian hostage Then Ted Fen.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said police had received verification from their Philippine counterparts.

“The head found in Jolo matches Bernard’s DNA. 

“I want to take this opportunity to extend my condolences to Bernard’s family. We will take all necessary measures for the culprits to face the laws of our country,” he added.

He was reportedly beheaded by his Abu Sayyaf captors on Nov 11. The Philippine military said it was due to a breakdown in negotiations over his release.

The group has also been blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that killed over 100 people.

Television news showed plumes of black smoke as the plane exploded.

The trainer aircraft is one of 16 bought by the air force last year.

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