A clash between government troops and about 80 Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Sulu Island has left seven dead and 21 wounded.
The intense 30-minute firefight took place close to Patikul town from about 6.50am today (Friday, April 5).
The military has said that four islamist fighters were killed and nine wounded, while three soldiers were killed and 13 wounded. The troops were all part of the 5th Scout Ranger Batallion.
The injured soldiers were evacuated by Huey helicopter to the Kuta Heneral Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo. Most of them suffered minor injuries caused by shrapnel and are reportedly in stable condition.
The Abu Sayyaf terrorists were under the command of sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, believed to be responsible for January’s deadly twin blasts at Jolo Cathedral. At least 23 people were killed and more than a hundred others were injured in the attack.
The encounter this morning was part of the ongoing pursuit operations against the Islamic State affiliated militants.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo Jr, Joint Task Force Sulu Commander, said the latest operation was the result of good intelligence provided by local communities. “With the people of Sulu now on our side, our fighting soldiers are very much motivated to finish off the terrorists the soonest possible time. We will further intensify our campaign against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu. We will continuously hunt them down wherever and whoever they are,” he said.
“The recent armed engagement with the Abu Sayyaf Group is a result of good intelligence provided by the local populace who are tired of the atrocities being done by the ASG in their localities.”
A message sent out by the Islamic State’s Amaq propaganda wing today falsely claimed that the encounter had led to the deaths of 13 government soldiers.