MANILA - A military spokesman on Friday said Wednesday's surgical strike against the Abu Sayyaf terror group's lair in Tipo-Tipo, Basilan was largely successful and inflicted heavy losses on the extremists.
Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner, Armed Forces spokesman, said at least 31 Abu Sayyaf bandits and 23 soldiers were killed in fierce gunbattles at an Abu Sayyaf training camp in Sitio Kurellem, Silangkum in Tipo-Tipo town. He said the main targets in the raid were Abu Sayyaf chieftains Kahir Mundus and Furiji Indama.
"We conducted a surgical operation, which means it was intelligence-driven. We were targeting the main camp of the Abu Sayyaf. This is the same group that conducts kidnappings in Basilan. We consider the operation a success because we deprived them of a launching area or camp where they launch these kidnappings and atrocities," Brawner told ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."
He said the military is now conducting follow-up operations against the remnants of the group.
Maj. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) chief, said numerous home-made bombs along with 13 high-powered firearms were recovered at the Abu lair.
The fighting was the heaviest since at least 29 soldiers were killed in two separate clashes with the Abu Sayyaf in July and August 2007 -- with the bodies of 10 soldiers later being found mutilated.