Six soldiers wounded in Basilan clash

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Six soldiers were wounded during an encounter with Abu Sayyaf militants on Thursday in the restive province of Basilan in the Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, officials said.

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Officials said Abu Sayyaf gunmen led by Puruji Indama ambushed soldiers belonging to the 18th Infantry Battalion in downtown Tipo-Tipo sparking a firefight. The militants also detonated an improvised explosive to slow down the soldiers.

“At least six of our soldiers were wounded in the fighting in Tipo-Tipo proper,” said Capt. Franco Suelto, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.

He said troops were pur-suing Indama’s group. It was not immediately known if there were enemy casualties, he said.

The clash happened a day after security forces arrested two wanted Abu Sayyaf militants—Nur Hassan and Ustadz Alih—near the Port of Zamboanga. The two Basilan natives were being investigated by the police in Zamboanga City.

Authorities did not say whether the two men were on a mission or planning to launch attacks in Zamboanga, where suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen recently kidnapped grocery owner Michelle Panes in Labuan village.

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