ZAMBOANGA CITY: Troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists, killing one gunman, but security officials said a soldier was also slain with four others wounded in the fighting in Sulu province in southern Philippines on Saturday.
Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort, a Philippine Army spokesman, said intelligence reports claimed that four more bandits were killed and five others wounded in the 30-minute gunbattle in Kabbon Takas village in Patikul town.
He added that the soldiers recovered the body of a slain ASG member, including an automatic rifle and personal belongings left behind by those who fled the fighting.
At least 40 terrorists under a notorious militant leader, Hajan Sawadjaan, engaged the soldiers in the firefight.
It was unclear whether Sawadjaan led his men in the gunbattle.
Army Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, mourned the death of his soldier.
“The untimely death of our soldier in today’s armed encounter will never weaken our spirit in the fight against terrorism,” he said, adding that troops were pursuing those who managed to escape from the military operation.
The wounded soldiers were brought to a military hospital in the capital town of Jolo.