MANILA- Five Abu Sayyaf bandits and 2 soldiers were killed in a firefight in Sulu at dawn Thursday, the military said.
The encounter happened around 4:02 a.m. Thursday as troops from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 were conducting "focused military operations" in Barangay Pang, Kalingalan Caluang, Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command (AFP Wesmincom) said in a statement.
Troops from the Fleet-Marine Forces Sulu "heavily engaged" around 30 bandits in the area at the dawn incident.
Five bandits and two soldiers died, while another Marine was injured in the firefight, the Wesmincom said.
He was immediately brought to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Busbus, Jolo, Sulu and later transferred to a private hospital in Zamboanga City for further medical attention.
Bodies of the slain Abu Sayyaf members were retrieved by government forces.
Troops also recovered at the scene 7 firearms: 2 M16 rifles, an M14 rifle, a Garand rifle, a KG-9 submachine gun, a home-made Cal .50 Sniper rifle, and a shotgun.
The encounter is the latest amid government's continuing offensives against the bandit group, which is responsible for attacks, beheadings and kidnap-for-ransom activities around Mindanao.
"All-out offensives against these bandits are continuously being conducted by the Western Mindanao Command to force them to yield to military troops and to release their captives,” said Wesmincom commander Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr.
The military said it has so far killed 120 Abu Sayyaf bandits: 85 from Sulu, 27 from Basilan and eight from Tawi-Tawi.