SULU – Two army soldiers were killed and at least 12 wounded in fierce battle with Abu Sayyaf rebels holding Filipino and foreign hostages in the southern province of Sulu, officials said Monday.
Officials said the soldiers, members of the 5th Scout Ranger, were sent to rescue the hostages in Patikul town when they encountered the rebels under Abu Sayyaf commanders Hajan Sawadjaan, Idang Susukan, Injam Yadah and Ben Quirino in the village called Tanum.
The weekend fighting also killed at least 10 rebels and injured four others, including Quirino, according to a report by Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu; but not a single body was recovered by soldiers.
Army Colonel Emmanuel Garcia said the fighting last about an hour and that troops recovered an automatic rifle and improvised explosives left behind by rebels. “Soldiers are still on pursuit operations,” he said.
The fate of the hostages, including two policewomen, were unknown.
Major General Arnel dela Vega, of the Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City, condoled with the families of the slain rangers. “We are sad to report that two of our brave soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to rescue the kidnapped victims,” he said, adding, the slain rangers would be given a heroes burial. (Mindanao Examiner)
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