Government troops clashed with a huge number of Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippine province of Sulu that killed a soldier and left 10 more wounded in the battle, officials said Thursday.
Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the fighting erupted in the village of Panglayahan in Patikul town on Wednesday afternoon.
He said members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion under Lt. Col. Ronaldo Mateo battled some 60 militants led by Hajan Sawadjaan and that the fighting lasted for 2 hours that left a still undetermined number of enemy casualties.
“Casualties on the enemy side are yet to be determined,” Besana said.
Security forces continue to track down the militants, who broke into smaller groups and escaped. It was unknown whether soldiers clashed with militants holding nearly a dozen, mostly foreign hostages, held captive in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Just early this week, troops and police commandos raided an Abu Sayyaf hideout in the village called Pang in Kalingalang Caluang town after receiving reports the militants and their hostage, a seven-year old Muslim girl, were spotted in the area. But the Abu Sayyaf fighters managed to escape with their victim.
Seven Abu Sayyaf militants seized the girl, whose surname is Astah, in the village of Himba in Tandubas Island in Tawi-Tawi province, also in the autonomous region, on June 25 and shot and wounded her mother before escaping.