4 Abu Sayyaf members, soldier killed in Sulu firefight

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 8) — Four Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) members were killed with five others injured in a clash with government forces in Patikul, Sulu on Saturday, said the military.

Operating troops of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and 12th Division Reconnaissance Company had an encounter with 40 “fully-armed” members of the ASG sub-group led by Hatib Sawadjaan, the alleged mastermind in the bombing of a cathedral in Jolo early this year.

The firefight left four ASG members killed and five others injured. On the side of the military, one soldier was dead and four others were wounded.

Although four ASG were killed, the military said that it only recovered one cadaver from the site of the encounter. The cadaver is already under forensic investigation.

“The spotted crumbs of human flesh and bloodstains in the encounter site is indicative of ASG enormous casualties other than the cadaver recovered,” said 1101st Brigade commander BGen. Antonio Nafarrete.

Aside from the cadaver, also recovered were personal belongings of ASG members which include backpacks, food, and cooking materials.

Meanwhile, the wounded soldiers were immediately brought to Camp Bautista Station Hospital for treatment.

Joint Task Force Sulu commander Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said that Tausugs in the area are active in reporting the presence of ASG.

“The ASG maneuver space is dwindling. Hence, they now have to surrender or be killed by our operating forces,” he said.