MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – At least 15 Army soldiers were killed while 5 others were wounded on Monday, August 29, in a gun battle with the Abu Sayyaf group in Patikul, Sulu, initial military and police reports said.
A police report sent to Rappler showed that two Army battalions conducting pursuit operations against the ASG around between 5-6 pm Monday were attacked by local terrorists under the command of ASG leader Radullan Sahiron.
A military source initially said 12 Army soldiers were killed as of 8 pm. A separate situation report sent by the police confirmed the casualties, adding that the encounter in Sitio Kan Jalul, Maligay, Patikul town was still ongoing as of 8pm.
Before midnight Monday, the number of killed had risen to 15, according to both police and military sources.
The troops were under the 35th and 21st infantry battalions.
Among those killed in the Friday firefight was alleged Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Mohammad Said, alias Ama Maas, who had 5 standing warrants of arrest for murder, the military said.
President Rodrigo Duterte has pledged to crush the Abu Sayyaf. The military has since then focused on wiping them out in Sulu and Basilan, the group's bailiwicks.
Lieutenant General Mayoralgo M. dela Cruz, commanding general of the Western Mindanao Command, earlier said the military is bent on implementing the order of the President.
"He gave a specific order. The mission is clear. Seek and destroy the ASG," Dela Cruz said. – Rappler.com