Two suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf group were killed when government forces conducted pursuit operations against Mundi Sawadjaan, who allegedly masterminded the recent twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu.
Members of the third and fifth Scout Ranger Battalions caught up with the fleeing bandits Saturday morning in Patikul, Sulu, killing two Abu Sayyaf members.
Troops also recovered high-powered firearms after the firefight.
“We will employ all military assets to destroy the fleeing Abu Sayyaf members who are perpetrators of the Jolo bombing," said Brig. Gen. William Gonzales, Commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu who ordered the pursuit operation.
Sawadjaan, nephew of Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, and his Indonesian cohorts are wanted for the twin bombings that killed 15 and wounded 75 others on Monday.
Gonzales said he directed all units to track down Sawadjaan.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) believes that Sawadjaan and his group were still in the Philippines despite escaping the military in Sulu.
Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP Spokesperson, told Teleradyo, that the PNP was working with other government agencies, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard to determine the whereabouts of the bandits.
"Inaasahan natin na narito pa rin iyan sa ating teritoryo... at mahigpit ngayon ang lockdown na ipinapatupad natin lalo na sa karagatan sa bahagi ng Western Mindanao," Banac said.
He also appealed for cooperation from the people and the local government of Western Mindanao and for any information that could lead to the arrest of Sawadjaan and his men.
"Malawak ang lugar ng Western Mindanao so kailangan talaga ng masusing pagmamanman at vigilance ng lahat," Banac said.
"Kailangan natin ng tulong ng ating mamamayan pati ng local government nits para mamonitor natin kung sakali kung saan man nagtatago ang mga suspects na ito."