MANILA / AP
A suspected Indonesian militant was killed and one of Southeast Asia’s top terror suspects was seriously wounded as the Philippines launched airstrikes using South Korean-made fighter jets for the first time in combat, the military chief said on Sunday.
Military Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Ano said the body of the suspected Indonesian militant, known by his nom de guerre Mohisen, was recovered by troops along with three dead Filipino followers of militant leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was seriously wounded in the hilly outskirts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur province.
Eleven other militants were reportedly killed, Ano said, citing intelligence, but added their bodies have not been found. Hapilon was wounded in the arm and was losing blood after air force aircraft, including FA50 supersonic fighter jets, unleashed six 500-pound (225-kilogram) bombs Wednesday night and Thursday on a militant encampment in an ongoing offensive, Ano and another air force official said.
Four FA50s have been delivered and the rest of 12 jets are to be delivered by July, air force officials said. President Rodrigo Duterte has criticized the FA50s as being inadequate for counterinsurgency and good only as fly-by aircraft for ceremonies. Hapilon, who has reportedly been designated to lead an IS group branch in Southeast Asia, was being moved around by his men in a makeshift stretcher but could not escape from Lanao, about 830 kilometers south of Manila, because artillery-backed troops have blocked possible exit points, Ano said.