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3 Abus dead, 7 soldiers hurt in clash

By FRANCO G. REGALA, with report from Francis Wakefield

JOLO, Sulu – Government troops looking for two abducted policewomen engaged a group of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) into a firefight yesterday morning in a remote village in Patikul.

Three ASG fighters were killed while seven soldiers were wounded, according to Joint Task Force-Sulu (JTF-Sulu) commander Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana.

The troops belong to the 21st Infantry Batallion while the estimated 70 ASG members were believed led by Idang Susukan and Almujer Yadah.

The encounter took place around 6:14 a.m. at Sitio Sangay, Barangay Buhanginan.

Sobejana identified the fatalities as a certain Moktar, Julhadi, and Suray. He did not identify the wounded soldiers.

The military believes that many ASG fighters were wounded during the encounter, leaving blood stains in their escape routes.

JTF-Sulu said the soldiers were backed up by artillery and attack helicopters.

Sobejana said JTF- Sulu will not stop military operations until all kidnap victims are rescued and the ASG’s strength reduced to insignificant level.

The abducted lady cops have been identified as PO2 Benierose Alvarez and PO1 Dinah Gumahad.

The ASG is reportedly demanding P5 million each for the safe release of the two police women.

Alvarez is assigned at the Engineering Service Division under the Regional Logistics Division of PRO-9 while Gumahad is assigned at Midsalip MPS, Zamboanga Del Sur and is undergoing a 45-day Criminal Investigation Course at Regional Special Training Units 9 in Zamboanga City.