PATIKUL, Sulu – Two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group were killed while two others were wounded during a clash with government troops here Thursday morning.
The firefight happened amid intensified government offensives against those responsible for the deadly twin bombing at the Jolo Cathedral on Jan. 27, where 23 were killed and more than 100 were hurt.
The Western Mindanao Command said soldiers from the Philippine Army's 41st Infantry Battalion encountered at least 8 bandits while conducting hot pursuit operations in Sitio Tubig Amu in the village of Tanum.
Two bandits who have yet to be identified were killed in the brief gun battle.
Based on intelligence sources, at least two other bandits were seriously wounded in the clash.
Soldiers and Abu Sayyaf members had clashed on Feb. 2 also in Patikul town in an operation to arrest Hajan Sawadjaan, an Abu Sayyaf leader believed to be behind the Jolo bombings.
Five soldiers and three bandits, including an Abu Sayyaf leader called Black Moro, were killed in the firefight.
Authorities had said the Abu Sayyaf aided Indonesian suicide bombers behind the twin blasts.