ZAMBOANGA CITY – Fierce fighting erupted on Monday between government troops and Abu Sayyaf rebels in southern Philippines, leaving at least 2 dozen casualties on the military side, officials said.
Officials said the clashes broke out in Mount Taming in Sulu’s Patikul town that left 3 soldiers dead and 21 others wounded. Troops clashed with about 150 Abu Sayyaf gunmen and the fighting lasted 2 hours.
The clashes occurred in the same area where Abu Sayyaf fighters also killed 3 soldiers and wounded 17 more on December 10. Officials tagged Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and commanders
Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Yasser Igasan and Mujer Yadah as behind the huge group that engaged soldiers in a running gun battle in Patikul.
Major Filemon Tan, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, insisted that 10 Abu Sayyaf members were killed and 6 others wounded in the fighting, but troops had recovered not a single cadaver. Tan report cannot be independent confirmed.
“Fire support and close air support were provided to the engaging troops. Adjacent units also conducted blocking and pursuit operations as casualties were immediately brought to the hospital. Two soldiers needed additional medical attention were airlifted to Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City,” Tan said.
He said security forces were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in an effort to rescue more than 2 dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors kidnapped by the notorious rebel group tied to the Islamic State.
“The Joint Task Force-Sulu continues to conduct pursuit operations and intensify further the conduct of focused military operations to rescue the remaining kidnap victims and neutralize the Abu Sayyaf group in Sulu,” Tan said. (Mindanao Examiner)