MANILA, Aug 30 (Mabuhay) – Fifteen soldiers, including an officer, died Monday in a clash with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members in Patikul, Sulu, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Tuesday.
The clash occurred at 4:30 p.m. in Sitio Kan Jalul in Brgy. Maligay, said Marine Col. Edgard Arevalo, chief of the Public Affairs Office of the AFP.
The government troops from the Philippine Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion and 21st Infantry Battalion faced “more or less 120 heavily armed terrorists” during the gunfight, Arevalo added.
He said the extent of casualty on the ASG side has yet to be determined.
Army soldiers from other areas immediately rushed to the scene to pursue withdrawing terrorists, while others provided blocking forces.
The AFP withheld the names of the soldiers killed in action as well as those wounded in action until their families have been notified.
“As we gaze at the national flag that flies at half mast anew, soldiers knew that one too many hero among them has again offered his life—that others may live,” General Ricardo Visaya, AFP Chief of Staff, said.
He added that their campaign against the ASG will continue.
“There may still be casualties along the way as we advance this solemn duty to eradicate these bandits and terrorists of 25 years, but we will not stop until we rid our country of the menace this ASG brings to the world,” Visaya said.
An earlier Reuters report quoting Maj. Filemon Tan placed the Monday clash’s death toll among government soldiers at 12. (MNS)