ZAMBOANGA CITY: At least seven soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf fighters in the southern Philippines, a military report said Friday.
It added that the fighting erupted in Batungan village in Patikul town, Sulu, one of five provinces under the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where troops were tracking down members of the notorious jihadist group.
The wounded soldiers were identified as Sgt. Rodguer Bilbao; Corporals Dennis Buela, Jonathan Natividad and Philip Jaravilla; and Privates First-Class Michael Galduen, Netlie Tangonan and Allan Guingayan.
They were all airlifted to the Camp Navarro General Hospital, in Zamboanga City.
There were no reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties.
The jihadist group is holding over two dozen foreign hostages – Canadians, Dutch, Norwegian, Malaysians and Indonesians and a Japanese man – whom they abducted from Tawi-Tawi province, also in southern Philippines, and from Sabah, in Malaysia.
The group has demanded ransoms for the release of hostages, and threatened to execute some of the captives if their governments fail to pay. AL JACINTO