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3 soldiers hurt in clash

Three soldiers were wounded in a clash with suspected members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu yesterday afternoon, a military official said.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, commander, Joint Task Group Sulu (JTG Sulu), said the fighting occurred around 1:45 p.m. at Barangay Liang, Patikul town.

Troops from the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion (35IB) led by 1Lt. Albert Peralta were on combat operations when they encountered approximately 20 armed men believed to be ASG bandits under sub-leader Ninok Saparri.

Arrojado said three soldiers sustained minor injuries due to M203 shrapnels on their arms.

There were no immediate report of casualties on the enemy side.

The encounter took place two days after an elderly Korean kidnapped in Zamboanga Sibugay last January and then turned over to the ASG, was found dead in Patikul town.

The ASG, the most violent of the Islamic separatist groups operating in the southern Philippines, is blacklisted by the United States as a terrorist organization. It is engaged in kidnappings for ransom, bombings, assassinations, and extortion. (Elena Aben)