KOTA KINABALU: A Filipino relative of wanted Sabahan terrorist Amin Baco was killed on Sunday in a clash between Philippine troops and the Abu Sayyaf militant group led by two sub-leaders wanted by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).
Taha Sawadjaan was one of the 10 Abu Sayyaf members killed during the fighting in Patikul town, Sulu. Two other members were wounded, Philippine media reported yesterday.
Taha was the younger brother of Amin’s father-in-law Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader.
A report said the two wounded were from a combined group led by four Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders including Hatib and Indang Susukan, who are on Esscom’s wanted list.
Another report said Indang and another sub-leader, Jajan Sawadjaan, were also involved in the firefight but may have got away.
One of the two wounded Abu Sayyaf members was Adzren Sawadjaan. It is not clear whether Adzren and Jajan are related to Hatib and Amin.
Two soldiers were also killed and at least 12 others wounded, security officials were quoted as saying. The fighting happened while troops were on a search-and-rescue operation in Patikul for the terrorist group’s kidnap victims.
Sulu Joint Task Force commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said the troops encountered the Abu Sayyaf group in a suburb at about 6:15am.
The soldiers also recovered a rifle, ammunition and components of improvised bombs after the clash.
Amin, who is from Tawau, Sabah is also wanted by Esscom. He was believed to have been killed last year while fighting Philippine troops in a siege of Marawi city by Islamic State-affiliated groups.
His body was never found but later the Philippine authorities said they suspected Amin had fled Marawi and was holed up in the mountains off Patikul town under the protection of Hatib.
Indang is suspected to have beheaded a Malaysian hostage, Bernard Then Ted Fen, who was kidnapped from a seafood restaurant in Sandakan three years ago.
Amin, Hatib and Indang are among 16 people on Esscom’s wanted list.