ABU Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was seriously injured in an encounter with government troops in Poona Babayao, Lanao del Sur, on Tuesday, the military said Wednesday.
Colonel Nixon Fortes, Army's 103rd Brigade commander, said Hapilon was hit by a bullet in his right leg in a clash between his group and troops from 51st Infantry Battalion and 15th Division Reconnaissance Company.
The encounter took place around 9 a.m. of March 7.
He said the information came from the residents in the area, which was then validated by the Armed Forces' intelligence unit.
Fortes added that Hapilon's three Tausug followers died in the encounter.
Recovered from the encounter site were high powered firearms, grenades and improvised explosive devices.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Hapilon was seriously wounded in military air strikes in Butig town last January 25.
Hapilon is on the United State’s most wanted terrorists list due to his involvement in the kidnapping and killing of Americans in the country. The US government has offered millions of pesos for information on Hapilon.
Meanwhile, Fortes said that a certain Najib Pondoc, an alleged bomb-maker, is in Poona Babayao to join Hapilon's group and is eyeing to stage more terror attacks.
He said the joint forces of the Maute Group and Hapilon’s aim to establish a provincial ISIS territory in Lanao del Sur.
"Hindi lang ito sa Lanao del Sur kung hindi sa buong bansa and this we don't want to happen," said Fortes. (SunStar Philippines)