ZAMBOANGA CITY (PNA) — Five Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while 11 soldiers were wounded in a clash as intensified focused military operations continued in a bid to rescue the hostages in Sulu.
Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. on Thursday said the clash occurred around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in Bud Taran, Indanan, Sulu.
He said the troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu were conducting focused military operations when they clashed with the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Galvez said the firefight lasted for 10 minutes after which the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled to the hinterlands.
He said the troops were informed that five of the bandits were killed.
Galvez withheld the identities of the wounded soldiers but noted that they belong to the Army’s 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion.
They were taken to the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Hospital for treatment.
“The Joint Task Force Sulu led by Colonel Cirilito Sobejana continues to intensify the conduct of offensives against the Abu Sayyaf to neutralize the bandits and ensure the rescue of the remaining hostages. All measures are undertaken in accordance with the rules of engagement and with support from the local government and the populace,” Galvez said.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captive 31 people, including 26 foreigners, in the hinterlands of Sulu.
The hostages include 12 Vietnamese; seven Indonesians; five Malaysians; five Filipinos; a Dutch; and a Korean.
“The Command is right now at an advantage since the Local Government Units, the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other security sectors are helping the government troops in fighting terrorism by means of giving information, thus, resulting in the decisive encounter yesterday,” he added.
“Terrorism is a sickening problem that needs all sectors of society’s cooperation for it to be defeated. With the renewed vigor of those who are against it, we are optimistic that we will be able to crush the bandits within six months,” Galvez further said.