ZAMBOANGA CITY (2nd UPDATE) -- A Marine soldier and at least 10 members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were killed after the armed bandits attacked a military-controlled camp in Patikul, Sulu.
Speaking on "Mornings @ ANC" on Wednesday, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said heavy firefight ensued at 4 p.m. on Tuesday after several Abu Sayyaf fighters attempted to recover a camp seized by the military in Sitio Kanjimao, Barangay Buhanginan.
Zagala said the bandits, led by Radulan Sahiron alias Commander Putol, "attempted to regain control" of the area which had served as a stronghold for the group.
The area was seized by the military earlier this week.
"We believe that Kanjimao serves as their storage area and their training and resting ground. Maybe this is the reason why they really want to regain it," he said.
Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade and Joint Task Force Sulu, also said the seized camp was important to the Abu Sayyaf because it was being used by the group as a detention area for its kidnap victims.
According to Zagala, firefight between the Abu Sayyaf and the military lasted until 2 a.m. on Wednesday.
But he said he expects the gun battle to still continue within the day.
Pinto earlier said there were at least 14 fatalities on the side of the Abu Sayyaf. Some of its members were also wounded, he said.
Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesperson Capt. Rowena Muyela also reported that 14 members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed in the clash.
At least 16 government soldiers were wounded. Most of them suffered minor sharpenel wounds.
Pinto said the military fired back at the bandits using Howitzers, mortars and MG520 attack helicopters.
The remains of the slain Marine soldier, meanwhile, arrived at Camp Bautista in Jolo, Sulu at around 7 a.m. Wednesday.
No kidnap victims were sighted in the area. -- With reports from Queenie Casimiro and Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga