HEAVY fighting erupted anew between Army soldiers and Abu Sayyaf bandits in Patikul, Sulu on Thursday resulting in the death of four of the terrorists and one Army corporal and the wounding of five others, officials said yesterday.
At least five other soldiers from the Army’s 6th Special Forces were injured during the clash with a band of heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf extremists led by one Monde Sawadjaan, described as a nephew of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan who is being hunted for his involvement in the infamous bombing of the Jolo Cathedral last January 27 which killed 23 people and injured nearly 100 others.
The fighting occurred as security forces continued their hunt for Sawadjaan and his men. Two weeks ago, soldiers also clashed with over 100 Abu Sayyaf gunmen in Patikul resulting in the death of five troopers and three bandits.
Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command chief, Lieutenant General Arnel dela Vega said troops are still tracking down the gunmen who retreated to their jungle hideouts after the fighting in Barangay Igasan which started around 11:30 a.m. Thursday. The remains of the slain trooper identified as Corporal Nemesis Salviejo was flown to Villamor Air Base while the wounded soldiers are still undergoing treatment at the Camp Teodoulfo Bautista Hospital in Jolo as of press time.
De la Vega said the soldiers were on combat patrol in Bgy. Igasan when they chanced upon the gunmen. A 30-minute gunfight erupted between the two groups before the bandits fled in different directions. However, Cpl.. Salviejo was killed in the first volley of Abu Sayyaf gunfire.
With Zaida Delos Reyes