MANILA — Fifteen soldiers, from the 35th and 21st Infantry Battalions, were killed while another 10 were wounded following a clash with an estimated 120 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits led by Radullan Sahiron in Patikul town, Sulu on Monday afternoon.
An officer is among the 15 soldiers killed in the battle, said Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo.
The encounter took place 4: 30 p.m. at Sitio Kan Jalul, Barangay Maligay, Patikul.
“We are withholding the names of those KIA (killed in action) and WIA (wounded in action) until their next-of-kins were duly notified,” he added.
“Other soldiers operating in the area immediately rushed to the encounter site to pursue the withdrawing terrorists. Other Army units provide the blocking forces,” Arevalo stressed.
ASG losses are still undetermined as of this posting. Troops were pursuing the terrorists when they encountered Sahiron’s group, triggering a one hour and half firefight which ended 6:00 p.m. Monday.
“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,” AFP chief-of-staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya said.
“Much as every soldier, sailor, marine, or airman knows that laying down one’s life is all part and parcel of their job, we in the AFP vow to pursue this battle to conclusion,” he added.
And while admitting that the road will be rough, Visaya said the AFP, despite casualties, will continue with its duty to eradicate these bandits and end their terrorist threat.
“We have all the time. Keep the pressure on the enemy until they wear out. Just ensure they won’t be able to leave the island and we will be triumphant in the end,” he added.
Focused military operations have been ongoing against the bandit group since Aug. 26 since the brigands beheaded 18-year-old Patrick Jhames Almodavar last Aug. 25. PNA/northboundasia.com