MANILA - Six soldiers were killed while 4 more were wounded when state troops clashed with the bandit Abu Sayyaf group in Sumisip, Basilan Wednesday afternoon.
Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) chief Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said bodies of the slain soldiers were already transferred to Zamboanga City.
“We are sad to report the death of six of your soldiers during the encounter yesterday in Basilan,” Galvez told reporters Thursday as the military continued offensives against the Abu Sayyaf group.
Those wounded were, meanwhile, taken back to the headquarters for medical attention. The military has yet to release the identities those killed and hurt.
Col. Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the 18th Infantry Battalion were targeting Abu Sayyaf leaders Siar Alhamsirol and Parong Tedi in Barangay Upper Cabengbeng when firefights erupted.
Relatives and sympathizers of the Abu Sayyaf, however, reinforced the bandits in the clash that started around 12:40 p.m. Wednesday and lasted for about 4 hours.
The military has yet to determine the number of Abu Sayyaf members and sympathizers who may have been killed or hurt during the clash, Uy said.
Soldiers are expected to intensify intelligence operations and offensives against the remaining Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
Recently, state forces killed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City, where he led a five-month siege.
The government has continued operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao, where the bandit group has carried out attacks, abductions and killings of both locals and foreigners. -- report from Queenie Casimiro, ABS-CBN News