MANILA (UPDATE) - Philippine security forces discovered an arms cache owned purportedly by a local group of bandits in Gutalac town, Zamboanga del Norte, after being tipped off by former rebels.
Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said in a statement Wednesday that troops from the 44th Infantry Battalion were conducting combat operations when they saw the arms cache supposedly left behind by the Guerilla Front Flex-A group in Sitio Palos, Barangay Santo Niño in Gutalac.
Five M16 and one caliber-.30 M1 carbine rifles, one long magazine of carbine rifle with 26 rounds of live ammunition of caliber .30 were recovered by troops from the site.
A cellphone, a communist group flag, medical and dental equipment, and assorted medicines were also seized, Vinluan said, adding that former communist bandits led the military to the location.
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Vinluan said troops from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion were conducting clearing operations in the area when they encountered the ASG members led by alleged bomber Mundi Sawadjaan and senior leader Radulan Sahiron.
The gunfight went on for 20 minutes before the terrorists reportedly withdrew.
“The ASG also suffered undetermined casualties as evident on the bloodstains in the encounter site. I am happy to report that there is no casualty on the government side,” Vinluan said.
Two M14 rifles, 3 hammocks, 2 pairs of combat boots and two backpacks and other materials were recovered from the site. Documents and photocopies of two Indonesian passports were also found by the military after the firefight, Vinluan said.
Col. Antonio Bautista, commander of the 1101st Infantry Brigade, said security forces were pursuing the ASG bandits who fled.