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7 dead, 22 hurt in Sulu clash

MAP of Patikul, Sulu

MAP of Patikul, Sulu

Four Abu Sayyaf Group militants and three Scout Rangers were killed while nine local terrorists and 13 other soldiers were also wounded in an encounter between the government troops and the ASG in Patikul, Sulu yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu, said troops from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion were on combat operations when they clashed with about 80 ASG members under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Atol, Barangay Latih, Patikul, Sulu, at about 6:50 a.m.

Pabayo said the fierce encounter lasted for about 30 minutes after which the enemy withdrew towards the forested areas of Mount Dahu in Patikul.

According to Pabayo, four Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed while nine others were wounded in the encounter.

Unfortunately, three Scout Rangers died and 13 others were wounded in the firefight.

Pabayo said those who were wounded were immediately evacuated to the Kuta Heneral Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo, Sulu via UH-1H Helicopters. “Most of the wounded suffered slight injury due to shrapnel wounds and are now in stable condition,” Pabayo said.

The JTF commander said they have poured more troops in the area to pursue the fleeing bandits. “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,” he added.

Pabayo thanked the Tausug people for the continuing support to the military in their quest for a peaceful and progressive Sulu province.

“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,” Pabayo said. (Francis Wakefield)