At least 3 Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed and 7 Moro National Liberation Front fighters were wounded in a 40-minute clash last Friday in Indanan, Sulu.
According to Major Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, prior to the encounter that took place in the village of Kagay, the military has been receiving information that a group of armed bandits were hiding in Indanan near the base camp of the MNLF.
MNLF founding chairperson Nur Misuari immediately validated the information and asked the military if it could send its fighters in the area, where the bandits were holed up.
"Noong na-develop nila ang information na andoon nga, tapos ipinaalam sa akin ni Chairman Misuari na kung puwede lakaran nila kasi 400 meters away lang from MNLF community, nagkaroon ng encounter mga almost 40 minutes ata," Vinluan said.
"May nasugatan sa MNLF side, may 7. Nadala naman dito sa hospital namin. And then, sa side naman ng Abu Sayyaf group, sabi ng MNLF doon sa mga tao nila sa loob, may 3 namatay, saka may tatlong nasugatan," he added.
Vinluan said Misuari reprimanded one of his commanders for letting the Abu Sayyaf bandits get near their camp. He said the group of Misuari has been sincere in its commitment to help the government fight local terror groups in Sulu.
"Maganda yung cooperation namin. Napaganda noong pumunta si Chairman Nur dito. Then, napag-usapan namin kung ano dapat yung, ano yung magandang maitulong nila sa amin, para eventually matapos na itong gulo dito sa Sulu," Vinluan said.
Vinluan said the 5 abducted Indonesian nationals were sighted with the Abu Sayyaf bandits during the gun battle. However, the MNLF fighters failed to safely rescue them.
They were abducted off Sabah, Malaysia last Jan. 17 by men led by Abu Sayyaf sub-commanders Taun Annoh and Apoh Mike.
"May nakakita, yung nag-report sa MNLF na kasama yung 5 Indonesian sa grupo na yun. Wala naman, hindi naman nasugatan, kasi parang nasa likuran yung mga kidnap victims eh. Pero hindi rin sila nakatakas," Vinluan said.
On April 17, a bloody clash ensued between government troops and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu that left 12 soldiers dead and 13 others wounded.
Five days later, soldiers from 45th Infantry Battalion found themselves in a fierce gun battle again with the Abu Sayyaf group in Patikul, killing 3 bandits and wounding at least 3 others.