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3 Army soldiers killed in Sulu encounter with Abu Sayyaf

MANILA, Philippines — Three Army soldiers were killed and 13 others were wounded in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits early Friday in Sulu, the military said.

Troops from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion clashed with about 80 members of Abu Sayyaf under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Atol, Brgy. Latih Patikul in Sulu at 6:50 a.m., said Joint Task Force Sulu Spokesperson Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort.

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He also said the 30-minute clash killed four Abu Sayyaf members and injured nine others.

Government casualties were airlifted by Air Force UH-1H choppers to a military station in Jolo, according to Monfort.

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“Most of the wounded soldiers suffered slight injury due to shrapnel wounds and are now in stable condition and troops of Joint Task Force Sulu are on hot pursuit to the fleeing terrorists as of this report,” Monfort said.

Colonel Gerry Besana, public affairs officer of the Western Mindanao Command, said the combat operation was part of Joint Task Force Sulu’s ongoing pursuit operations against the bandits, who attacked policemen securing elementary school teachers in Barangay Kan-Agi, Patikul last April 2.

Brigadier General Rey Divino Pabayo Jr., commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said he mourns the death of soldiers but he also commended the troops for repelling the bandits’ presence in Barangay Latih.

“The tenacity of the troops forced the Abus to scamper away towards the forested areas of Mount Dahu in Patikul, Sulu,” he said.

According to Pabayo, this latest armed engagement was a result “of good intelligence provided by the local populace who are tired of the atrocities being done by the (Abu Sayyaf Group) in their localities.” /kga

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