CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 October) — Seven Abu Sayyaf members and three Marines were killed in a brief firefight in Patikul, Sulu island province Friday, the Western Mindanao Command said.
“We are sad to report that we lost three of our valiant Marines during the course of the fight” in Barangay Timpook, Patikul town n Sulu, Lt.Gen Arnel B. Dela Vega, Commander of the Armed Forces Western Command said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, WestMinCom spokesperson said three Marines were also wounded in the 30-minute encounter that started at around 5:30 a.m. He said the Marines also arrested seven residents.
Besana said Marines from the 62nd, 61st, and 64thMarine Companies engaged the Abu Sayyaf rebels under sub leaders Alnijar Ekit and Aldi Alun.
He said the Marines later found at the encounter site a body of an Abu Sayyaf fighter with an M14 rifle with seven magazines of ammunition.
“We believe the Marines killed six more terrorists based on radio intercepts and from villagers’ accounts, Besana told MindaNews by phone.
Besana said the Abu Sayyaf group that the Marines encountered belong to a faction of Radullan Sahiron, who has a US$ 1 million bounty for his role in the May 2001 Dos Palmas kidnappings of three U.S. citizens, including Martin and Gracia Burnham, and 17 Filipinos from a tourist resort in Palawan.
He said Abu Sayyaf leaders Alnijar Ekit and Aldi Alun are known followers of Sahiron in Patikul.
“They are known to reinforce the group of Sahiron if he calls for help. The result is they became a bigger force,” Besama said.
He said three battalions of Marines and Special Forces have encircled the town of Patikul, where Sahiron is believed to be hiding.
Besama said the bodies of the Marines were airlifted to Camp Navarro, headquarters of the Armed Forces Western Command in Zamboanga City Friday night. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)