8 die as soldiers, Abus clash in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, Philippines — Eight people, two of them children, were killed when gunmen from the Abu Sayyaf Group attacked government troops in Patikul town, Sulu province, on Saturday, military reports said.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said 1-year-old Saiful Abdun and 12-year-old Jahida Usab were among the fatalities when Abu Sayyaf members attacked the village of Igasan, triggering a firefight with soldiers, which lasted 30 minutes.
The military claimed to have killed six and wounded seven Abu Sayyaf members.
Pabayo said three soldiers and two residents, a 60-year-old man and a 17-year-old mother, were wounded while three other children were rescued unharmed.
Soldiers belonging to the 6th Special Forces Battalion were at Barangay Igasan for a five-day dialogue with residents when the bandits attacked before they could wrap up the event.
“They were about to conclude their dialogue with the community when more than 30 armed bandits stormed, unmindful of the presence of civilians,” Pabayo said.
“The dialogue was about development projects to be implemented in the community. [The soldiers only wanted] to [get the residents’] commitment to ensure the [community’s] support for the program,” he added.
Pabayo identified one of the wounded soldiers as 2nd Lt. Christian Capiz, platoon leader of the 6th Special Forces Battalion, who had secured the three children from being caught in the crossfire.
“I could have easily withdrawn my troops to a safer position but I cannot leave behind the trapped and panicking children,” Cadiz said. “So I ordered my men to hold their position and prevent the advance of the Abu Sayyaf at all cost.”
Hindun Angsa, provincial social welfare officer in Sulu, said the clash displaced a number of families at Barangay Igasan.
“We are still trying to assess the situation there. Evacuees had fled to the nearby barangay of Taglibi,” Angsa said.
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