The military reported on Thursday that a total of seventeen were killed in one of the most deadly clashes between the Muslim extremists and government forces in recent months.
Ten rebels were killed in the fighting, while the death toll on the government side reached seven, in the bloody skirmish on the island of Jolo, southern Philippines.
Military statements indicated that the soldiers were attacked as they neared the small town of Patikul, a known stronghold of the militant Abu Sayyaf group on the island. The Abu Sayyaf initially fired on the soldiers, killated, the Abu Sayyaf fired mortar shells at the soldiers, felling six more men.
Ten Abu Sayyaf fighters were likewise killed, with an additional 24 government soldiers wounded.
“The remaining troops are still in the area of operations while the casualties were evacuated,” the statement said.
Military officials refused to say why they were in the area of Patikul town.
The attack followed a string of setbacks endured by the Abu Sayyaf, such as the recent downfall and capture of one of its most wanted terror leaders, Khair Mundos. Mundos, who is on the US government’s list of “most wanted” terror suspects, was seized last week in Manila.
Two of his followers were also subsequently arrested.