MANILA, Philippines - More government troops are being sent to Basilan province to help pursue Abu Sayyaf terrorists who killed 10 soldiers in recent clashes.
An Army battalion from Lanao del Sur is due to arrive in Basilan next week while another battalion from Zamboanga-Sibugay will also arrive next month.
The series of clashes in the town of sumisip has also left at least 9 bandits dead and 17 more soldiers wounded.
Malacañang has condemned the attacks and the Palace has directed Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to go to Basilan to check on the operations against the bandit group.
The Army on Friday also released the amount of P7.2 million for the families of the 10 slain soldiers in Basilan.
"The Army will never forget the benefits due to our modern heroes. We owe them for their sacrifices while preserving the peace in the countryside," Army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said.
The soldiers were killed in the series of clashes on Thursday, when a 40-man patrol team fought against at least 150 Abu Sayyaf bandits in Upper Cabengbeng, Sumisip, Basilan.
The slain soldiers were identified as Pfc Segundiano G. Tamayo Jr, Pfc Rey C. Evangelista, Pfc Arnold D. Coresis, Pfc Cleto A. Algayan, Pfc Kennith John D. Maribao, Pfc Jose Marvin V. Talamante, Pfc Mark B. Ocampo, Pfc Arwin C. Martinez, Cpl Jerry N. Areglado and Pfc Erwin E. Alerta.
Seventeen more soldiers sustained injuries in the firefight but only 13 were evacuated to a military hospital in Zamboanga City.
Four of the injured soldiers, among them Scout Ranger officers Cpt. Rodrigo Babaran and Lt. Arcel Soco, opted to remain in the scene of the clashes to rejoin their unit in pursuit operations.
Bodies of 5 of the slain soldiers will be airlifted to Manila on Saturday and will be given military honors at the Army headquarters. - with a report from ANC