3 Abu Sayyaf killed, 16 soldiers wounded in Sulu clash

Roel Pareño - Philstar.com
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- An encounter between the military and the Abu Sayyaf on a mountain in Patikul town, Sulu on Tuesday afternoon left three militants dead and 26 -- including 16 soldiers -- injured.
The encounter happened as government forces mounted an offensive on orders from President Benigno Aquino III to rescue hostages still in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf group.
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the fighting occurred about 2:20p.m on the mountain in Sitio Bud Duwa Bayho, Barangay Pansul, Patikul town.
Tan said the troops of the 32nd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Ramon Flores clashed with about 200 Abu Sayyaf members under different sub-leaders.
According to Tan, the intense fighting lasted for an hour and a half. Sixteen soldiers were wounded as the military continued to inch closer to tracking down hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf group.
He said the fierce fighting left three Abu Sayyaf militants and 10 others wounded.
The military official said the wounded soldiers were immediately evacuated to the trauma hospital inside Camp Teodulfo Bautista in Jolo for treatment.
Tan said pursuit operations continued until dusk as the Abu Sayyaf group disengaged and retreated in several directions.
Military battalions in the nearby areas have conducted blocking operations to prevent the Abu Sayyaf from leaving the operational zone in Patikul.

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