11 soldiers killed in clash with Abu Sayyaf in Sulu

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 17) — Eleven soldiers were killed in a firefight with bandits in Patikul, Sulu on Friday, authorities said.

Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, chief of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said 14 other soldiers were wounded after an hour-long gunbattle with the Abu Sayyaf at Sitio Bud Lubong, Barangay Danag at around 3 p.m.

Sobejana said the 21st Infantry Battalion encountered around 40 bandits.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo told CNN Philippines there was an undetermined number of enemy casualty.

Arevalo said the government will provide assistance to the families of slain soldiers.

Patikul town is a known lair of the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnap-for-ransom activities.

The firefight happens while the country is addressing the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the police and military deployed in checkpoints enforcing lockdown guidelines to contain the spread of COVID-19.

"The WestMinCom's Joint Task Forces nevertheless sustain their security operations while they take the lead in the strict enforcement of the quarantine in Mindanao," the Wesmincom said in a statement.