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Abu Sayyaf casualties mount

Zamboanga City – A day after two members regarded as its expert navigators in its kidnapping operations at sea were killed, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) lost two more personnel Wednesday in Panamao, Sulu, the military said.

According to Armed Forces of the Philippines – Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) Spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., two bandits were killed when the 35th Infantry Battalion mounted an offensive against the group of Alhabsy Misaya in Barangay Pugad Manaul at around 7:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Tan said a soldier was also wounded in the encounter.

He identified one of the  slain ASG bandits as  a certain Daris, while the other remained unidentified as of press time.

The soldier who was wounded was immediately brought to a military hospital in Jolo, Sulu.

Tan added that pursuit operations against Misaya and his followers are ongoing, with close air support being provided by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Panamao.

On Tuesday, notorious kidnappers Nixon Muktadil and Brown Muktadil, who were also operating  under Misaya, were killed by soldiers of Joint Task Force Sulu in Daungdung, Pata, Sulu.

The death of the Muktadil brothers came as a huge blow to the ASG, as the bandit group also lost their main sea navigators during kidnapping activities, Tan said.

Meanwhile, a trusted aide of a top ASG commander was arrested in this city by police authorities at around noon Tuesday.

The police identified the  suspect as Alnijal Gamsani Ismaluddin, who is also known as Alih and considered an ASG sub-leader.

According to police files here  Ismaluddin is the  trusted man of  the late Mohammad Said alias commander Ama Maas based in Patikul, Sulu.

Ismaluddin was  arrested by the police at the vicinity of Plaza Pershing located at  I. Magno St. here.

The police said Ismaluddin was an ASG hit man and has been implicated in the death of police and military men in Jolo, Sulu.

Ismaluddin  is being detained at the Zamboanga City Central Police Office in this city.