The mother of a fallen soldier received a deeply disturbing text message after a bloody engagement between Philippine troops and Muslim militants Monday.
Philippine forces engaged heavily armed Abu Sayyaf militants in three separate battles near Patikul, Sulu Province, Monday. Fifteen Philippine soldiers were killed, and another 12 were injured.
After hearing the news that there had been casualties during the fighting, Mila Falcasantos sent a message to her son Jison, a private first class in the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion, reports Inquirer.net.
“Son, how are you there?” she texted Monday evening. She received no response from her son that night.
The next morning, a message came in on her phone.
“Your son is dead, he has no head now, we cut off his head on Tuesday,” the shocking message read.
Falcasantos replied, “You have no conscience.”
A second message came in shortly thereafter. “Indeed, we have no qualms because they were the ones who came to our area. I will cut your head off too,” read the message. They were allegedly sent by Abu Sayyaf militants.
Falcasantos contacted one of her relatives, a military officer, who confirmed that her son was among the 15 soldiers killed in action.
Initial reports suggested that two Philippine soldiers had been decapitated by Abu Sayyaf militants; however, Western Mindanao Command spokesman Major Filemon Tan Jr. announced Tuesday that all 15 bodies had been recovered and that none of the soldiers had been mutilated or decapitated, reports CNN.
Abu Sayyaf is a terrorist group based in the southern part of the Philippines which has been operational for nearly two decades. This group is said to be loyal to Islamic State. This band of Muslim militants flies the black flag of ISIS, and aims to create an independent Islamic state in the Philippines.
Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the Philippines worst terrorist attack, a ferry bombing in 2004, which killed over a hundred people. They kidnap foreigners and Filipinos for ransom and regularly executes hostages.
In response to this growing threat, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed troops to go “full force” and wipe out Abu Sayyaf, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Thousands of additional troops have been sent to the south to combat Abu Sayyaf, which is said to have around 500 fighters.
Duterte initially tried to negotiate a ceasefire with Abu Sayyaf, but later changed his stance. He order troops to “go out and destroy them.”
With the deployment of the 63rd Infantry Battalion Wednesday, there are now 7,500 Philippine soldiers spread out across Sulu Province, explained ABS CBN News. Abu Sayyaf has announced that it is ready for the “soldiers of Duterte.”
Thousands of Philippine citizens in the south have already fled their homes in fear of what they expect will be a fierce and bloody battle.
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