MANILA - At least eight soldiers were injured in a clash with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Patikul, Sulu on Sunday afternoon, an official of the the Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) confirmed.
Wesmincom spokesperson Major Filemon Tan Jr. said the 21st Infantry Battalion led by Lieutenant Colonel Presco Lobos encountered some 100 ASG fighters while conducting military operations in Barangay Panglayahan.
The 501st Infantry Brigade has directed all adjacent operating units to block the possible escapes routes of the bandits, Tan added.
Tan, on Monday, said the military had two encounters with the Abu Sayyaf on Sunday and clarified that encounters were done in isolated areas.
He said about 300 to 400 Abu Sayyaf members are still existing in the area since pursuit operations against the group has been intensified.
"We can handle it. It’s just that the Abu Sayyaf is, the problem now is they are splintering into smaller groups in certain times and we are having that as constraints. This is not a fight where they are in a certain position that is why it is like chasing them all the time," Tan said in a phone interview on ANC's Dateline Philippines.
He added that an estimated 60 Abu Sayyaf members in Sulu and 28 in Basilan have been killed in military operations since July.