ZAMBOANGA CITY: At least three dozen soldiers were wounded in fierce clashes with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Sulu, reports from there said on Monday.
The reports said the weekend fighting broke out in the remote village of Upper Laus in Talipao town where troops clashed with about 150 rebels under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.
There were no reports of Abu Sayyaf casualties but many of the wounded soldiers were members of the 41st Infantry Battalion.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command did not release any information about the casualties, although security forces have been battling the ISIS-affiliated rebel group whose members are fighting for a caliphate in the restive Muslim autonomous region.
Just recently, security forces captured a notorious Abu Sayyaf rebel—Amilton Tammang —at the port of Zamboanga City after he escaped military operation in Sulu.
Tammang, 29, had been wanted for the beheading of a construction worker in Patikul town in 2016.
He was handed over by the military to the police for interrogation.
It was not immediately known whether Tammang escaped from Sulu with other rebels or was planning an attack on Zamboanga.
Meanwhile, at least eight people were injured in an explosion also on Monday in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, after an unidentified man tossed the explosive at the compound of the Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative.
The bomb fell short and hit the wall, where it exploded.
Many of the injured were employees of the cooperative, including an ambulant vendor.
The assailant fled before the blast and authorities were investigating whether the attack was connected to extortion.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack but several rebel groups and criminal gangs are operating in the province.
In August 2015, gunmen riding a motorcycle also attacked the police headquarters in Tacurong City, exploding a grenade at the office of the Highway Patrol Group.