THREE soldiers were killed while 17 others were wounded in an encounter with some 150 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) the other day in Patikul, Sulu.
The identities of the fatalities were not yet available as of press time but the wounded soldiers were taken to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Reports said the encounter occurred at 10 a.m. in Bud Taming, Bgy. Kabbontakkas, Patikul.
Accordingly, combined elements of the Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion, under the Joint Task Force Sulu, were conducting focused military operations in the area when they encountered the bandits led by their leader, Radullan Sahiron, and sub-leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan and Mujer Yadah.
A firefight immediately occurred that lasted for an hour and 45 minutes until the rebels withdrew.
The firefight resulted in the killing of three soldiers and wounding of 17 others while the enemy were believed to have incurred an undetermined number of casualties.
Government troops immediately provided fire support and close air support to the engaging troops while adjacent units also conducted blocking and pursuit operations.
The report said all casualties on the government side were extricated from the area of engagement with 15 of the 17 wounded taken to KHTB Hospital and two others airlifted to Zamboanga City for further medical attention at Camp Navarro General Hospital.
Authorities are now conducting hot pursuit operation against the fleeing bandits and intensifying the conduct of focused military operation in the area.