Some 10 Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed, while eighteen soldiers were wounded. during a Friday morning firefight in Sulu, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, Col. Cirilito Sobejana, reported.
Sobejana said his troops were mounting a rescue operation for Abu Sayyaf hostages when they clashed with about 120 ASG gunmen at around 9 a.m. in Patikul town. The ASG were led by Radullan Sahiron and his sub-leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Almuher Yadah
The firefight lasted about two hours, until the gunmen withdrew. Government troops were supported by helicopters, artillery, and armor assets.
Sobejana added that among those killed were two of Sahiron's close relatives. A military source said that among the relative's killed was the ASG leader's grandson. "He is a minor, a child warrior," the source said.
Sobejana also said that the 18 injured soldiers were being treated at a military hospital. "None of their wounds is life threatening," he clarified.
On Wednesday, military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said a total of 43 Abu Sayyaf men have been killed in ecounters with government troops from November 1, 2016 to March 1.
Government troops have been conducting operations against the Abu Sayyaf to rescue the remaining hostages still in captivity.
Over the weekend, German national Jüergen Kantner was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu after they failed to collect the P30 million ransom they demanded.
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