ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—At least seven Marines and four Abu Sayyaf extremists have been killed in a clash amid an offensive against al-Qaida-linked gunmen accused of carrying out recent kidnappings in Mindanao, a military official said.
Military spokesman Brigadier General Domingo Tutaan said nine other Marines and about 10 Abu Sayyaf fighters were wounded in the gun battle Saturday in Tugas village in Sulu province’s coastal town of Patikul. Reinforcement troops, including policemen, were hunting down the gunmen in the jungle.
Lieutenant General Rey Ardo, Western Mindanao Command chief, said the firefight that started at 6:45 a.m. Saturday was continuing.
The son of Abu Sayyaf leader Adzmar Sawadjali was among those killed in the firefight, said Ardo.
Ardo said Marine soldiers battling the Islamic extremists were now being reinforced by artillery and air craft.
The Abu Sayyaf is holding Jordanian journalist Baker Atyani whom they took in Sulu where he was on a coverage in June 2012.