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7 Abus killed, 17 soldiers wounded in Sulu clash (ASG sub-leader also critically wounded)


A heavy firefight broke out on Friday afternoon between government troops and Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu Province, leaving dozens of casualties on both sides, military  officials disclosed yesterday.

The firefight occurred as troops of the "Task Group Panther" led by Lt.  Col. Samuel Yunque, together with a group of Army’s Scout Rangers led by Capt. Michael Asistores was conducting  focused military operation in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, at around 1:30 p.m. on Aug.  14, 2018, said Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, spokesperson of Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom),   who issued a statement on Saturday.

"More or less one hundred fully armed Abu Sayyaf bandits under Commander Radullan Sahiron and sub leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan were encountered by our troops,  " he said.

The enemies withdrew due to the pressure imposed by the operating troops, according to Besana.

Based on a report from the Joint Task Force Sulu headed by Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, seven ASG members were killed, based on body count, and six others were wounded  including the group's notorious sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who was seriously hit in the stomach and lower extremities.

The military report said 17 soldiers were also slightly wounded during the encounter due to shrapnel.

"There are more casualties on the enemy side as blood stains were spotted by our troops in the encounter site," Besana added.

Battle casualties on government side were immediately rushed to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in the capital town of Jolo for medical treatment.

Bodies of the slain Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members were also brought to the said hospital for forensic examination and proper disposition.

The troops also recovered one M16 rifle, 4 5.56 mm magazines, 1 bandolier, 1 touch screen cellular phone, and assorted war materiel and ammunitions.

In the same statement,  WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen.  Arnel Dela Vega commended the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu for this recent accomplishment.

"All sorts of assistance will be provided to the battle casualties and our prayers are with them for their speedy recovery," he assured.

As of this report, more troops have been deployed to go after the fleeing bandits.

The Abu Sayyaf group under Sahiron, Susukan, and Sawadjaan has been kidnapping foreigners and locals in previous years and holding them for ransom in the southern Sulu jungles.

They are believed to still hold foreigners, a Dutch, Indonesians and Filipino hostages.

Earlier,  Malaysian authorities blamed the Islamic State-linked terror group as behind the kidnapping of two Indonesian fishermen early Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, off the east  coast of the Malaysian Borneo state of Sabah. -- Hader Glang

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