2 Abu Sayyaf men killed in firefight in Isabela

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    TWO Abu Sayyaf members, who were among eight inmates who recently escaped from the Basilan provincial jail, were killed in a firefight with Army soldiers in Isabela City on Sunday.

    Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said Nurhassan Lahaman had a pending murder case in court while Battuh Kusain Murag, who was involved in a bombing in Lamitan City in Basilan in July 2018, was facing charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder.

    The two escaped from the Basilan provincial jail in Isabela City on October 14 with six other inmates. The escapees fatally shot Jail Officer 3 Asbi Florencio Salih who tried to prevent them from escaping.

    One of the escapees, Torotoy Abbas who was charged with kidnapping with serious illegal detention, died when he fought it out with troops out to re-arrest him later that day.

    Another escapee, Abu Sayyaf member Mahad Hassan with a murder case, was caught also on October 14.

    Delos Santos said Lahaman and Murag were sighted by pursuing forces of the 4th Special Forces Battalion in Barangay Cabunbata in Isabela City on Sunday afternoon.

    “Becoming aware of the presence of the military troops, the two fugitives initiated a firefight which forced the soldiers to retaliate,” said Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.

    Vinluan said the five-minute firefight resulted in the death of the suspects. Troops recovered from the two an M653 rifle with a short magazine and ammunition, and a caliber 45 pistol with a magazine and ammunition.

    “The military and the police are in hot pursuit of the remaining escapees,” said Vinluan, referring to Gappal Saripada (murder and frustrated murder), Hernie Asao (illegal possession of explosives and firearms), Albaser Ahmad (murder and frustrated murder), and Kaliji Hajirul (murder).

    “We cannot deny the fact that they are familiar with the terrain, but we are maximizing our efforts to expedite the arrest of the remaining fugitives the soonest possible,” Vinluan also said.