GOVERNMENT forces successfully neutralized six enemies and seized eight firearms in Western Mindanao within the past three days, authorities said.

Last Thursday, troops of the 21st Infantry Battalion heavily engaged the Abu Sayyaf bandits while on focused military operations in Barangay Bungkaong, Patikul, Sulu. The encounter resulted in the death of two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) named Benajir Intag, whose body was recovered on site, and Bassal Mahalli.

Troops also seized five high-powered firearms, which include one (1) K3 squad automatic weapon, one (1) M16A1 Colt with M203 attached, and one (1) M653 Elisco with M203 attached.

Two cellphones, three solar panels, and 8 backpacks containing assorted food and personal belongings were also found by the troops in the temporary resting area of the ASG members.

“One of our soldiers was wounded and was immediately extricated by the responding troops to be given medical attention,” said Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander. “He is now on stable condition and is already recuperating,” he added.

As of this report, 285 ASG members were neutralized in the entire Western Mindanao. Of the total number, 112 were killed, 103 surrendered to troops, and 70 were apprehended.

Meanwhile, last Tuesday, two communist rebels were killed, six were wounded, and another one was arrested by the elements of the 44th Infantry Battalion and the Municipal Police Station following the series of armed engagements in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. They have also recovered ammunition, explosive devices, and subversive documents.

Also on Tuesday, combined forces of the Joint Task Force Central — 57th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Mechanized Infantry Battalion — were able to apprehend two lawless elements, during the conduct of a law enforcement support operations in Maguindanao.

Among those apprehended include Menta B. Umpan, a suspected Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) member and a certain Tolks Lakim, a lawless element at Lower Meta Village, Datu Unsay.

In his report to Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM), Brig. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega said that the troops were able to recover 3 high-powered firearms that include one (1) M16 rifle, one (1) M653 and one (1) M16 A1 rifle.

Lt. Gen. Carlito G. Galvez, Jr, commander of WESMINCOM, congratulated the armed forces “for their persistence in going after these threat groups and persons within their respective areas of operation.”

“Truly, our troops are very eager to make sacrifices in order to ensure that the people they serve will have a peaceful community,” Mr. Galvez said, adding, “I enjoin all our soldiers to continue the fight. Surely, our Commander-in-Chief (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) will be with us all the way in this given mission of liberating not just Marawi but the entire country from any form of threat.” — Jil Danielle M. Caro