SEVEN soldiers were killed while 13 others were wounded in separate encounters on Thursday with suspected members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Sulu.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said among those killed was a military officer whose team encountered an undetermined number of ASG rebels in Barangay Kagay in Patikul town.
Zagala added that just 10 minutes after the first encounter, six soldiers were killed while 13 others were wounded after they were hit by an 81-millimeter mortar in Barangay Kabuntakas.
“As of this report, the remaining troops are still in the area of operations while the casualties were evacuated to the nearest hospital for medical attention,” he said.
Of the 13 wounded soldiers, three were in critical condition and were immediately airlifted to Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City.
Zagala has withheld the identities of the dead and wounded soldiers pending notification of their immediate families.
He said the Patikul incident would not hamper military operations against the ASG.