TEN members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and a soldier were killed while seven others were wounded in fresh firefight in Patikul, Sulu on Wednesday as government forces intensified their anti-terrorist operations in the South.
The fighting occurred in Barangay Buhanginan, Sitio Sangay, while the military was in pursuit operation against the ASG, particularly the group of Hajan Sawadjaan.
Maj. Felimon Tan, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) identified the slain soldier as 2nd Lt. Ronald Detalla of the Philippine Army’s First Scout Ranger Battalion.
Wounded were Capt. Edmar Samonte, Staff Sgt. Wilson Fontanil, Sgt. Arthur Andama and Private First Class (Pfc) Ernie de Guzman, Pfc. Joemar Andres, Pfc. Dennis Desembrana, and Pfc. Albery Dinion, all of the Army’s First Scout Ranger Battlion.
They were brought to the Kutang Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo, where they were declared in stable condition.
The firefight lasted for about one-and-a-half hour, according to report.
Tan said Sawadjaan, one of Abu Sayyaf’s notorious leaders, is blamed by the Aquino government for the spate of terrorism and kidnappings in the restive Muslim autonomous region and other parts of Mindanao, including Zamboanga.
The Abu Sayyaf rebels – who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq – have threatened to execute their captives if their families and governments fail to pay $21 million ransoms.
They are holding two Canadian, a Norwegian and Filipina hostages they snatched from Samal Island in September this year.
In November the group beheaded a kidnapped South Korean man and a Malaysian hostage after their families failed to pay ransom.