4 troopers, 2 Abu Sayyaf members killed in Sulu encounter
In this May 9, 2018 photo, American and Filipino troops participate in an amphibious landing exercise simulating a beach assault during the annual Balikatan exercises in San Antonio, Zambales.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV, File photo

4 troopers, 2 Abu Sayyaf members killed in Sulu encounter

Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - June 6, 2020 - 6:46pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Four Army Special Forces were killed while 17 others were wounded in a fight that erupted Friday as the government troops encountered 40 members of the Abu Sayyaf group in a jungle lair in Patikul town, Sulu, military official confirmed Saturday.

The military said two Abu Sayyaf members were also killed and others were wounded in the encounter.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said the troops from 6th Special Forces Battalion were on combat operation when they encountered the big group of Abu Sayyaf members in the jungle of Sitio Lagaron, Barangay Kan-Ague, Patikul town.

Encinas said the group belonged to an Abu Sayyaf faction under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Sawadjaan is known to be the local leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria following his allegiance few years back. He is also blamed for the spate of suicide bombings in Sulu in 2018.

According to Encinas, the fighting lasted for 40 minutes which left four members of the Special Forces killed and 17 troopers were wounded.

“It was confirmed on the ground that two Abu Sayyaf group members were also killed while undetermined others were wounded based on blood stains as evidence on the encounter site and on the militants’ withdrawal routes,” Encinas said.

He said the troops recovered all the remains of the fallen troopers while those wounded were immediately brought to the Military Station Hospital in Kampo General Teodulfo Bautista, the base of the Joint Task Force Sulu and 11th Army Division under Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.

At least seven wounded soldiers were later airlifted out of Sulu and transferred the hospital based in this city, Encinas confirmed.

He said those wounded who were relocated are in stable condition.

Encinas said Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana directed the government forces in Sulu to continue relentless pursuit against the Abu Sayyaf group which has been part of the campaign aimed at crushing the terror group and bring back peace and development in Sulu.

Sobejana said the fallen troops will be given honors and their families will be provided with the needed assistance.

According to Encinas, the Westmincom commander also ordered to provide all logistics assistance to stop the Abu Sayyaf group and ensure the safety of the operating forces.

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