Three soldiers were wounded after government troops, and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits clashed in a focused military operation in Sulu.
According to Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, Army’s 11th Infantry Division commander, the encounter took place Sunday in Sitio Bud Kaha, Barangay Bungkaung, Patikul, Sulu.
Gonzales, who is also the Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said the clash lasted for about 45 minutes. The troops chanced upon more or less 20 Abu Sayyaf members who are still holding captive five Indonesian fishers, on a combat operation.
“Three of our soldiers were slightly wounded in the encounter, and we pray for their fast recovery,” Gonzales said.
The official did not release the identities of the wounded soldiers who belong to the 45th Infantry Battalion.
Gonzales said the casualties on the side of the Abu Sayyaf are yet to be determined.
“We sustain our focused military operations to destroy enemy strongholds and to thwart the terror plots of the local terrorist group,” said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
3 soldiers wounded in encounter with Abu Sayyaf in Sulu
The said ASG bandits are still holding captives the Indonesian fishermen kidnapped in Tambisan and Kuala Meruap, Lahad Datu, Sabah, on January 16.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana said the terrorist group abducted 8 Indonesians in Sabah. They then released three, but the remaining five were probably brought to the southern Philippine province of Sulu.
Sulu is known to be Abu Sayyaf’s headquarters and stronghold.
The Philippine military clashed with Abu Sayyaf members in Sulare island in Parang Sulu on Saturday. The soldiers killed one militant and destroyed a speed boat, which they believe the terrorists were using in the kidnapping.
Sobejana said Malaysian authorities immediately coordinated with the Philippine military after the kidnapping.