8 soldiers killed in Sulu clash with Abu Sayyaf flown to Manila
ZAMBOANGA CITY — With face masks on, honor guards of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) saluted and then carried eight coffins bearing the remains of their colleagues who were slain during a fierce gunfight with Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Patikul, Sulu, on Friday.
The fallen soldiers who are from Northern Luzon were boarded on a C295 military aircraft for Manila where they would be accorded arrival honors.
The sendoff rites at the Edwin Andrews Air Base here Saturday evening capped a long day for Westmincom, arranging for the soldiers’ funeral and learning lessons from its recent setback in the campaign against the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf.
The death of the 11 soldiers was the single largest casualty count since the military stepped up offensives against the Abu Sayyaf mid-2019 that aimed to decimate the group by end of that year.
Friday’s armed encounter also wounded 14 soldiers.
Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, who flew to Sulu on Saturday, told the Inquirer they are “making the necessary adjustments on our strategy.”
Sobejana said despite the setback, the troops in Sulu “are still well-motivated” to continue the campaign against the Abus.
“We reassessed the security situation and we saw that there is a need to readjust especially in as far as the concept of operation is concerned,” Sobejana added.
Sobejana has hailed the heroism of the fallen soldiers.
He said he has officers who will bring the fallen soldiers to their respective families.