ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/15 November) – Five soldiers and 15 suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in an encounter Friday in the province of Sulu, a military official said.
Capt. Ma. Rowena Muyuela, Western Mindanao Command information officer, said the 10 slain bandits were followers of Abu Sayyaf leaders Radulan Sahiron, Hatib Sawadjaan, and Juli Ekit.
Fifty-six were also wounded in the clash, 30 of them members the Abu Sayyaf, Muyuela said.
She said the military determined the number of casualties on the side of the Abu Sayyaf through intelligence reports and accounts from the villagers.
She said the clash broke out around 1:50 p.m. Friday in Barangay Bud Bunga, Talipao, Sulu as government forces continued to press on the bandit group.
Muyuela said the number of Abu Sayyaf casualties swelled as helicopter gunships provided air support to the ground forces.
Three of the wounded soldiers were airlifted early Saturday to a military hospital in this city. The other two were taken to a private hospital.
Operations against the Abu Sayyaf started after the bandits released their two German hostages last October 17. (MindaNews)