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Three soldiers were killed while 17 others were wounded in an encounter with members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu, Saturday.
Army Major Filemon Tan Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesman, said undetermined number of ASG bandits were either killed or wounded as a result of heavy exchange of fire which started at 10 a.m., Saturday.
Tan said troops of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion under the Joint Task Force Sulu were conducting operations when they clashed with some 150 ASG fighters in Bud Taming, Barangay Kabbontakkas, Patikul, Sulu.
He said the bandit group was led by top leader Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan, and Mujer Yadah.
The firefight lasted for an hour and 45 minutes before the ASG fighters withdrew, bringing with them a number of their casualties.
Tan said fire and close air supports were provided to the engaging troops. Adjacent units also conducted blocking and pursuit operations.
Tan said the identities of the dead soldiers were not released yet pending notification to their immediate families.
“The casualties were immediately extricated from the area of engagement. Fifteen were slightly wounded and were brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista (KHTB) Hospital while two others, who needed additional medical attention, were airlifted to Zamboanga City for further medical attention at the Camp Navarro General Hospital,” Tan said.
“Pursuit operations are ongoing to neutralize members of the bandit group,” he added. (FRANCIS T. WAKEFIELD)