At least 10 soldiers and nine Abu Sayyap militants perished as government troops engaged the al-Qaeda linked bandits in the town of Sumisip town in Basilan island in southern Philippines.
According to Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, spokesman of the Armed Forces’ Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), at least 24 were injured or wounded from both sides during the series of encounters.
Pursuit operations are on-going despite bad weather in the area as typhoon Gener batters northern and western Mindanao including Basilan island where the fighting between military troops and Abu Sayyap bandits is taking place.
The encounter started in Barangay Cabengbeng at around 7:30 a.m. Thursday which later spread out to Barangay Mebak in Sumisip town.
Cabangbang said the operation will continue until the Abu Sayyap bandits are flushed out of the area where they are holed in.
Fighting has reportedly ceased on Friday, but more troops had been deployed in the area, Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said.
Philstar.com reported Chief of Staff Jesse Dellosa and Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin Gazmin rushed to Basilan for security briefing from military officials on the ground. They also visited the wounded soldiers at the Camp Navarro Hospital.
The Islamist terrorist group Abu Sayyap has been tagged by the military as responsible for the series of terrorist activities mostly in the islands of Jolo and Basilan, including kidnappings , extortion, bombings and similar criminal activities.