SULU – At least 10 soldiers were killed and wounded in fierce fighting Saturday in the southern Philippine province of Sulu where security forces mounted fresh offensives against the pro-ISIS group blamed for the recent cathedral bombing in Jolo town.
CNN Philippines, quoting reports from the Joint Task Force later on the day, said 5 soldiers died and five more wounded in clashes in the village of Kabbon Takas in Patikul town.
There were reports that a foreign militant, who goes by his nom de guerre Abu Black, was killed in the fighting, but his nationality remains unknown. Another Abu Sayyaf commander, Idang Susukan, was also wounded in the clashes and lost his finger, according to military intelligence.
The regional military headquarters, Western Mindanao Command, did not release reports of military casualties or fighting in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
The CNN report also quoted Joint Task Force Sulu spokesman Lt. Col. Gerald Monfort as saying that members of the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion engaged in an intense firefight with the Abu Sayyaf under Hajan Sawadjaan.
“Troops struggled to seize the Abu Sayyaf camp which was located on high ground, giving the enemy the advantage to shoot at pursuing soldiers. Intense yung labanan at malapitan kasi pinipilit ng ating mga tropang makuha ang high ground,” he said, adding, the camp was eventually captured by soldiers.
Monfort said bad weather in the area prevented military reinforcement to help soldiers battled the militants.
The offensives were ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte following January 27 suicide bombings by an Indonesian couple of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral that killed 21 people and left over 100 others wounded. (Mindanao Examiner)
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