FOUR people, including three Abu Sayyaf bandits and a soldier, were killed while 15 others were wounded in an hour-long clash in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official said Saturday, July 8.
Joint Task Force Sulu Commander Cirilito Sobejana said the clash broke out around 8:45 a.m. Saturday in the boundary of the villages of Danag and Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu.
The clash occurred a day after the government recovered two Filipino kidnap victims in the town of Patikul around 5 p.m. Friday, July 7.
Recovered by the troops were Reyjim Rocabo, 41 and Roel Leones, 37, both residents of Tukuran, Zamboanga Del Sur.
“Rocabo and Leones specifically pinpointed the locations of the targeted Abu Sayyaf Group who according to the duo, is keeping captive other kidnap victims including some Vietnamese crewmen,” Sobejana said.
He said the troops from the Army’s 21st Infantry Battalion headed by Major Christopher Genzola engaged in an hour fierce firefight with heavily armed Abu Sayyaf bandits under Almujer Yaddah that resulted to the death of three bandits.
The troops recovered the remains of one of the three slain Abu Sayyaf bandits.
A soldier was also killed while 15 others were wounded in the firefight.
The wounded soldiers were taken to the Camp Teodulfo Bautista Hospital while the remains of the slain soldier was brought to the Joint Task Force Sulu mortuary in Jolo, Sulu.
“It is with deep sadness to report that one of our soldiers succumb to death and 15 others wounded in their persistent effort to rescue the kidnap victims,” Sobejana said.
He said the troops are in still in the area tracking down the bandits who left several blood stains on their tracks.
Rocabo and Leones are crewmen of F/B Ramona 2 who were taken forcibly by the Abu Sayyaf bandits along with two other boat crew last December 20, 2016 while fishing at Celebes sea.
The other two were Noel Besconde, the boat captain, and Roy Ramos, a crew. Rocabo is the boat’s marine diesel mechanic while Leones is also a crew.
The bandits beheaded Besconde on April 13, this year, while the troops rescued Ramos on June 8, in the village of Lagtoh, Talipao, Sulu.
The Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives 23 people in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
Of the 23 hostages, 19 are foreigners and four are Filipinos. (SunStar Philippines)