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AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo said unconfirmed reports indicate that the two sides have suffered casualties in the fighting in Patikul town in Sulu.
According to a source, the fight broke out at around 8 a.m. Sunday at the Abu Sayyaf lair in Kuta Masarin village. The fight was allegedly initiated by the members of MNLF.
Ardo said it is possible that the fight is rooted in a “misunderstanding” between the two sides.
“Two days ago, we heard of reports that the MNLF is helping us in the negotiations in releasing the kidnap victims there. Probably, there was a misunderstanding so it led to that encounter,” said Ardo.
When asked about casualties, Ardo said: “We have reports that the MNLF have casualties and the Abu Sayyaf also have casualties. But we cannot confirm it.”
“As of now, are troops are tactically positioned, preventing a spillover. At the same time, the mayor and Marine troops are attending to the IDPs [internally displaced persons], those directly affected,” he said.
Ardo added that government troops are not involving themselves directly in the fighting.
“So far, we have no complete details as to the result or whatever happened there. What we know is there is fighting there,” he said.
“We still have no complete report [on the fighting]. We have been hearing from civilian sources. I asked people on the ground to complete the report but it has yet to reach me,” he added.
On June 12, 2012, Saturday night, Jordanian TV reporter Baker Atyani of the Al Arabiya news channel and two Fililino members of his TV crew, Ramil Vela and Buboy Letriro, disappeared, believed abducted by the Abu Sayyaf. Vela and Letriro were released on Saturday.
When asked if ransom was paid for the release, Ardo said: “That I cannot answer directly because we do not negotiate with them. If there is, the Anti-Kidnapping Group of the police would know it.” — BM, GMA News
News Source: GMA NEWS TV
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