The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) recognized Joint Task Force Sulu for its successful “focus military operation” in Barangay Bakong, Patikul town that resulted in the death of seven Abu Sayyaf Group bandits on Friday.
“The AFP Leadership commends the operating units from Joint Task Force Sulu under Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo for successful ‘focus military operations’ in a known Abu Sayyaf terrorist lair in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, Sulu on Friday at around 1:30 in the afternoon,” AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said in statement Sunday.
Some seven ASG terrorists were killed while 17 troops were wounded by shrapnel in the firefight, which lasted one-and-a-half hours.
“We praise the combat skills of our soldiers in seizing the element of surprise and firepower,” Arevalo said.
“They were unfazed by volleys of retaliatory fire from more or less 100 Abu Sayyaf terrorists under (ASG) senior leader Radullan Sahiron and sub-leaders Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan.”
Reports added that six other ASG member were wounded, among them were sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who was hit in his stomach and lower extremities.
“We stand firm in our report that this was a legitimate encounter, contrary to enemy propaganda that it was a ‘massacre’,” Arevalo said.
He added the encounter site is a notorious ASG territory well-established by military and human intelligence.
“The folks of Patikul knows it very well, such that no civilian dared to go or pass by the place,” he added.
Recovered were one M16 rifle, four magazines for 5.56mm, one bandolier, one civilian pack, four cellphones, eight pieces of syringe, IED components (9 Volts battery, one blasting cap w/ wire), 161 pieces of live 5.56 rounds, four pieces 7.62mm rounds, one empty 50 caliber rounds, two boxes of empty M249 ammunition, 23 empty shells of 40mm, and assorted personal belongings of the bandits.