SULU - Two members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) were killed after another firefight ensued between terrorists and government troops in Patikul Sulu, Tuesday afternoon.
The Armed Forces revealed that combined troops of 35th Infantry Battalion and 21st Infantry Battalion engaged about 30 ASG members, led by Jamiri Jaong Jawhari and Basaron Arok, while they were fleeing from an earlier skirmish with soldiers of the 45th Infantry Battalion.
Residents near the clash site confirmed that the bandits carried off two of their companions for burial, while the government side did not suffer any casualties from the half-hour battle.
The latest confrontation between the AFP and the ASG brings to 32 the total number of ASG killed after President Rodrigo Duterte issued an order to "destroy" the Abu Sayyaf.
Despite efforts to annihilate the terrorist group's presence in Mindanao, Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega said soldiers are still keen on rescuing ASG's hostages.
"Our priority is the safe rescue of the victims and protection of local communities in Sulu against terrorists and criminal elements,"dela Vega said.
He said "local folks are gradually helping in protecting their own communities against the ASG" and are "showing defiance against the bandits."
"We are confident that more people in Sulu including LGU officials, community and religious leaders will cooperate in giving timely and accurate information to stop the un-Islamic and barbaric acts of ASG," he said.
The latest victim beheaded by the ASG was Patrick Almodovar, a local resident.