ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 19 June) – Seven Marines were killed while 24 others were wounded in a clash with Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu Thursday morning, the military reported.
The military also claimed that based on accounts of residents, the Marines killed 10 of the Abu Sayyaf bandits in the encounter at Sitio Sangay, Barangay Buhanginan in the municipality of Patikul.
Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) information officer, admitted that the Marines were able to recover only one body from among the alleged 10 dead Abu Sayyaf members.
She said the firefight ensued when the Marine troops chanced upon the Abu Sayyaf bandits, led by mid-level Sulu leader Hairula Asbang, while on security patrol.
Muyuela disclosed most of the slain and wounded Marines were hit by mortar rounds fired by the Abu Sayyaf.
She did not disclose the identities of the slain and wounded Marines except that they were assigned with the 2nd Marine Brigade.
She said pursuit operations, in coordination with the police, continue.
The Abu Sayyaf Group is still holding some kidnap victims in Sulu, among them Zamboanga City residents Remigio Lingayan and Joselito Gonzalez who were kidnapped last June 4 in Maimbung, Sulu. The two were are working on a government water system project.