Twelve people, including 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers, were killed while 14 others wounded in an hour-long firefight early Monday in the province of Sulu. Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, disclosed the firefight broke out around 6:15 a.m. in Sitio Kan Alas, Barangay Tanum, Patikul municipality.
Sobejana said the troops were on security operations aimed to rescue the kidnap victims when they clashed with a combined group of Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Sobejana said the bandits that figured in the firefight were followers of Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, Idang Susukan, Injam Yadah, and Ben Tattoh.
He said the firefight lasted for about one hour after which the Abu Sayyaf bandits fled to different directions.
He said four of the 10 slain Abu Sayyaf bandits were positively identified as Amah Talah, Taha Sawadjaan (the younger brother of Hatib), Long Abraham, and a certain Abu Red.
He said two of the 14 wounded were Abu Sayyaf members, namely, Ben Quirino alias Abu Ben Tatto and Adzren Sawadjaan.
Sobejana did not identify the two slain and 12 wounded soldiers except in saying they belong to the Army’s 5th Scout Ranger Battalion.
He said the troops have recovered from the clash site one M-16 “Baby Armalite” rifle, bomb-making components including canisters of ammonium nitrate, cellular phones, batteries and electronic mechanism.
The Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives 12 hostages, including five foreigners.
The hostages included three Indonesians, one Vietnamese, one Dutch and seven Filipinos.
“We will sustain our efforts until the last kidnap victim is rescued and the ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) is neutralized,” Sobejana said. PNA