Six Abu Sayyaf terrorists were killed and seven others were wounded, while five soldiers were similarly wounded in a firefight in Patikul in Sulu early Saturday morning, the military said Sunday.
Two minors were also killed after they were caught in the crossfire, while three other children were wounded during the 30-minute firefight in Igasan village around 5:35 a.m., the military said.
The Western Mindanao Command said the fighting started after troops from the 13th Special Forces Company of the 6th Special Forces Battalion chanced upon 30 Abu Sayyaf members under Mundi Sawadjaan.
The Abu Sayyaf had been harassing the communities in Igasan village before the clash, prompting the troops to engage the terrorists in a firefight while the residents were being led to a safe area, the military said.
But the three children were caught in the middle, prompting 2nd Lt. Christian Capiz and two other soldiers to come to their rescue.
Despite being wounded, Capiz safely secured the three children.
Brig. Gen. Peter Angelo Ramos, Commander of the 1102nd Brigade, said the Abu Sayyaf’s attack was a total disrespect to the tenets of Islam.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., Commander, of the Joint Task Force Sulu, said the Abu Sayyaf were enraged because the civilians were cooperating with the military.
“They were furious even at their own families whom they suspected of collaborating with our soldiers,” Pabayo said.
“The death of the two innocent children and the wounding of three other civilians are indicative of the ASG’s desperate actions of sowing fear among the local populace.”
The wounded soldiers and civilians were in stable condition and recuperating at the Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo.
“We deeply condemn this terroristic act of the Abu Sayyaf,” said Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, Commander of the Western Mindanao Command.
“On behalf of the men and women of WestMinCom, I would like to personally extend my condolences to the bereaved family of the innocent children who were slain by the terrorists,” Dela Vega said.
READ: 2 Abu Sayyaf killed, 2 hurt in clash with troops in Sulu