SEVEN Abu Sayyaf bandits, including two women, died following clashes with Marine soldiers in Siasi town in Sulu, Sunday dawn, a military spokesman reported.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said troops from the 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team conducted the assault around 3:47 a.m. at Laminusa island following reports that a number of Abu Sayyaf elements are holed up in the area.

Large cache of firearms was also recovered in the area.

Quoting reports from the field, Arevalo said the amphibious raid was supported by Navy gunboats. He said the raid was conducted using the Fleet-Marine concept type of operations.

Arevalo said the bandits, believed to have ties with the Jemaah Islamiyah, were led by Abu Benhur, alias Boy Tondo.

“The people of Sulu could be another step closer to their longing for a lasting peace in the area after another successful conduct of a Fleet-Marine Operation at Laminusa Island, Siasi, Sulu,” said Arevalo.

The operation also resulted in the seizure of 15 assorted high-powered firearms and four rifle grenades.

He said the clash also led into the wounding of a Marine soldier who was taken to a command ship, PS31, for treatment.

“As of this report, clearing the encounter site is ongoing in the presence of barangay officials for proper turnover to local officials,” said Arevalo. (VR/Sunnex)