7 soldiers hurt in clash with Abu Sayyaf in Sulu; some bandits believed dead
MANILA, Philippines – Seven soldiers were injured in a clash with members of the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu province, while a number of bandits were believed dead, the military said Thursday.
Troops from the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion of the Philippine Army encountered around 30 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists under the leadership of Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Kan Mindang, Barangay Pangdanon in Patikul town at about 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
The firefight lasted for about 50 minutes, with the ASG retreating and bringing with them their casualties, according to a report from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).
“We believe that a number of bandits were wounded and probably could have died due to loss of blood, for our troops have seen lots of bloodstains in the enemy position and in their withdrawal route,” said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu.
This initial encounter led to the wounding of five soldiers, who are now recuperating at Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Busbus, Jolo.
Recovered from the encounter site were five improvised explosive devices, medical supplies, 30 pieces empty gallons, personal belongings, detonating cord, 10 to 15 meters lead wire, 15 kilograms of rice, laminated sacks, a hammock, empty shells of 5.56mm and 7.62mm link, and two backpacks.
Vinluan said the firefight also lead to the discovery of an encampment of the terror group in Barangay Panglayahan.
“The enemy encampment can accommodate more or less 50 persons,” he said.
As they were pursuing the fleeing enemies, soldiers chanced upon around 10 bandits under the leadership of Mundi Sawadjaan and Yusop in Sitio Kanlimbungan, Barangay Tanum at about 4:20 p.m. on the same day.
The 20-minute encounter slightly wounded two soldiers, while the number of casualties on the enemy side has not been determined as of posting time.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Westmincom commander, commended the rangers for their “untiring dedication” to their duties in securing the province.
“I enjoin all the troops to press on until all the remaining bandits are neutralized and the peace that the people of Sulu are longing for is attained. But while military operations are vigorously undertaken, I encourage the remaining bandits to lay down their arms and end conflicts in a peaceful way,” he said. /jpv
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