MANILA—As the government intensifies its crackdown against Abu Sayyaf Group bandits, 14 soldiers were wounded following a clash with the bandit group in Patikul town, Sulu Friday morning.
In the encounter, an undetermined number of bandits were reported wounded, Army spokesperson Col. Benjamin Hao said in a message.
The clash took place 9 a.m. at Kan Udong, Barangay Igasan, he added.
The Army spokesperson said troopers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion were conducting focused military operations, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to eliminate the ASG bandits once-and-for-all, when it encountered an estimated 120 bandits under the command of Radullan Sahiron and Almuher Yadah.
In the firefight, 14 of the soldiers were wounded while an undetermined number of bandits were believed to have been injured and slain.
Pursuit operations are still ongoing.
Military in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are conducting intensified operations against the bandits in wake of the beheading of German Juergen Kantner last Feb. 26.
Around 31 hostages are believed to be still in the clutches of the terrorist group.