Camp Navarro, Calarian, Zamboanga City- August 15, 2016- Amid the intensified offensives of the military, elements of the Joint Task Force Basilan have captured Monday a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) fortified with bunkers, tunnels, and foxholes at Hill 355 in Barangay Silangkum, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.
Seized by troops of the 4 th Special Forces Battalion under Joint Task Force Basilan were two (2) Improvised Explosive Devices with the following components: a 60mm mortar CTG, a plastic bottle with ANFO, sharp nails, coins, one (1) 9-volts battery, one (1) small plastic box, wires, switch, and an improvised electric blasting.
The seized camp has 10 bunkers measuring 4x4x5 feet that can be occupied by more or less seven (7) people; four (4) tunnels that can be occupied by 20 people; several foxholes that can be occupied by eight (8) people; a kitchen hut; and one (1) exit post.
The camp was then declared clear by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. At around 2:21pm of the same day, operating troops displaced the area and established defensive position in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo.
Operating troops on Sunday simultaneously seized and controlled strategic strongholds of the Abu Sayyaf Group in Barangay Baguindan Proper and at Hill 440 (Kawilan Hill). The terrain served to secure Abu Sayyaf’s vital mobility and to intimidate nearby communities.
The combined assault from the Special Forces, other elite counter terrorism units, and Light Armor Cavalry Troops, with support from massive artillery fires, forced the enemy to abandon their stronghold which is fortified with seven (7) foxholes, twelve (12) bunkers capable of accommodating at least 80 ASG kidnap-for- ransom terrorists.
Military troops also recovered three (3) unexploded ordnances and several Lieutenant Colonel Andrew B. Bacala, Jr., Commanding Officer of the 4 TH Special Forces Battalion, said the ensuing operations that yielded to the capture of the Abu Sayyaf strongholds liberated the populace of Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo and Bohe Piang of Al-Barka.
Since last month, Special Forces operators have infiltrated strategic communities in the operational area, extending to three (3) municipalities. Utilizing the elite 12-man team to conduct mass base operations and harness popular support, the operators effectively earned the trust of the local populace to support ongoing military operations. With the help of the local government units from the municipalities of Albarka, Akbar, Tuburan, Maluso, Lantawan and Hadji Mutamad (Pilas), the Special Forces troopers became effective in its operations.
After the Special Forces units were deployed, reports on the ASG’s diminishing supplies surfaced as communities refute the enemy of resources and rally their support to the government troops.