4 soldiers, 2 Abu Sayyaf killed in Sulu clash
Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2020 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Four soldiers were killed and 17 others were wounded in an encounter with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu on Friday.

Maj. Arvin John Encinas, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) spokesman, said soldiers belonging to the 6th Special Forces Battalion encountered the bandits led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan in Sitio Lagaron in Barangay Kan-Ague.

Sawadjaan is said to be the local leader of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. The US government tagged Sawadjaan as the mastermind in the spate of suicide bombings in Sulu.

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

He said government troopers recovered the remains of the slain soldiers.

The wounded were evacuated to the Military Station Hospital at Camp Teodulfo Bautista, headquarters of the Joint Task Force Sulu and 11th Army Division led by Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr.

Seven of those wounded were later airlifted and transferred to a hospital in this city. They are now in stable condition.

Westmincom chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said pursuit operations for the bandits are ongoing.

Sobejana said military honors would be conferred on the soldiers while their families would receive financial assistance from the government.

He cited the recent gains of soldiers in the campaign against terrorism in Central Mindanao, with the killing of five members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Sultan Kudarat on Thursday.

The leader of the group, Tugali Guiamal Galmak, and his 13 followers surrendered when they ran out of ammunition. Romina Cabrera

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