• Duterte visits troops wounded in clashes

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte visited army soldiers who were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern province of Sulu.

    Duterte awarded the soldiers with medals, financial aid and a pistol during his visit on Monday at a military hospital in Jolo town. Eight soldiers were wounded in weekend fighting and that two of them had been transferred to Zamboanga City.

    The military’s Western Mindanao Command said one rebel was killed in the clash. About a dozen soldiers had died and over 30 others wounded in the battle against the Abu Sayyaf since July at the start of the government offensive in Sulu, one of the five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region.

    The wounded soldiers have been identified as Privates First Class Lorenso Agwayan, Walter Dumpaw, Hartblayne Akwat, Ladni Basitaw and Conrad Bagsaw, and Corporals Arjay Turingan and Junardo Esperansa, and Sergeant Edwin Ramos.

    Meanwhile in North Cotabato province in Mindanao, two warring groups of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) clashed on Monday in the town of Makilala and sparked an exodus of civilians in the village called Kidama.

    There was no immediate report of casualties on both sides, but the fighting between MILF Commander Tony Pulalon and MNLF leader Tato Manial had been going on for years. Pulalon attacked the group of Manial triggering a battle that forced villagers to flee to safer areas.

    Both groups had been fighting over vast track of land and control of power in the town. It was not immediately known why the military and police failed to prevent the clashes.

    The MILF and MNLF did not issue any statement.

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