MANILA - At least 11 soldiers were wounded in a gun battle with members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in Patikul, Sulu Thursday morning, a military official said.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said one of the wounded soldiers is in critical condition and is expected to be airlifted to Zamboanga City within the day.
The Abu Sayyaf, known for its kidnappings of locals and foreign tourists in southern Philippines, gained international notoriety for beheading captives when ransom demands are not met.
Bandits from this group attacked the town of Inabanga in Bohol last month, but the attempt to abduct foreign nationals was foiled by the military in an encounter which resulted in the deaths of 9 people, including 5 terrorists.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday placed the entire Mindanao group of islands under martial law after clashes between government troops and Maute fighters erupted in the lakeside city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur.
At least 7 have been reported dead, but casualties continue to rise as the skirmishes enter their second day.
- with a report from RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News