3 soldiers wounded in clash with Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

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    THREE soldiers were injured in a firefight with members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf group in Patikul town in Sulu on Sunday afternoon, the military reported yesterday.

    Lt. Col. Alaric delos Santos, spokesman of the AFP Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, said the terrorists suffered casualties based on bloodstains seen at the encounter site.

    He said troops from the Army’s 45th Infantry Battalion were on a combat operation with they clashed with about 20 Abu Sayyaf men in Sitio Bud Kaha in Barangay Bungkaung at around 3 p.m. The terrorists withdrew after a 45-minute firefight, bringing along their casualties, he also said.

    Delos said the encountered Abu Sayyaf members are from the group of leaders Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

    Asked if sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan, a nephew of Hatib, was with the encountered terrorists, Delos Santos said, “Mundi was not seen in the area.”

    Mundi was tagged as the mastermind of the August 24 suicide bombings in Jolo town, also in Sulu, that left 17 people dead, including the two female suicide bombers. The blasts also left 74 others injured.

    “Three of our soldiers were slightly wounded in the encounter and we pray for their fast recovery,” said Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. William Gonzales.

    Wesmincom chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr said, “We sustain our focused military operations to destroy enemy strongholds and to thwart the terror plots of the local terrorist group.”