3 Abu Sayyaf bandits killed, 16 gov’t troops hurt in Sulu clash

MANILA — Three suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits were killed while 16 government troopers were wounded during a clash in Patikul town, Sulu Tuesday afternoon.

In the same encounter, another 10 bandits were reported wounded.

Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM) spokesperson Major Filemon Tan said the encounter with the estimated 200-strong ASG took place around 2:20 p.m. at Sitio Bud Duwa Bayho in Patikul.

Troopers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Col. Ramon Flores were conducting clearing operations when engaged by the bandit group, triggering an hour and half of fighting, afterwhich the ASG brigands scampered to different directions.

“The soldiers who were wounded in the encounter were immediately brought to Trauma Hospital KHTB, Busbus, Jolo, Sulu for prompt medical treatment,” Tan said.

He said the troops continue to intensify the conduct of focused military operations in Sulu to pin down the ASG brigands and rescue the remaining hostages.

The ASG brigands are still holding captives a number of hostages, including foreigners.

Among the foreign hostages are Ewold Horn, a Dutchman birdwatcher the ASG brigands have kidnapped in February 2012 in Tawi-Tawi and Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingtad.

The ASG brigands kidnapped Sekkingtad on September 21, 2015 at a resort in the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte together with John Ridsel, Robert Hall and Filipina Marites Flor, Hall’s girlfriend.

The ASG brigands beheaded Ridsel last April 25 and Hall last June 13 for failure to meet their ransom demands which runs to millions of pesos.  Priam Nepomuceno and Teofilo Garcia, Jr/PNA/northboundasia.com