The peaceful celebration of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim “Feast of Sacrifice,” was marred by an encounter between government troops and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul, Sulu on Friday, leaving three soldiers and six suspected terrorists dead.
A report from the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) said three more soldiers were also injured in the fierce clash which occurred in Barangay Taong around 11 a.m.
The identities of those killed-in-action (KIAs) and wounded-in-action (WIAs) were not immediately released pending notification of their immediate families.
Meanwhile, the slain terror suspects are yet to be identified.
According to the report, soldiers from the 32nd Infantry Battalion (32IB) were conducting security operations as residents celebrated Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s most important celebrations, when they were fired upon by an undetermined number of suspected ASG bandits.
Patikul is a known stronghold of ASG which is responsible for some of the country’s most vicious terror attacks such as bombings and kidnappings.
“It is with deep sadness to report that three of our brave soldiers succumbed to death while defending the people of Sulu,” said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu.
He said the three WIAs were immediately extricated from the area and evacuated to Kuta Heneral Teodulfo Bautista Station Hospital in Jolo for treatment.
“We seek for prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and for the speedy recovery of the wounded soldiers,” Vinluan added.
Meanwhile, the troops discovered the remains of three slain enemies while scouring the encounter site, the military report said.
The remains of three other enemy casualties are believed to have been brought by the bandits as they made good of their escape.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of WestMinCom and incoming Philippine Army chief, condoled with the kin of the KIAs as he assured them of all the necessary assistance.
“The men and women of WestMinCom commiserate with the bereaved families of our fallen heroes who dedicated their life serving their beloved country,” Sobejana said.
He noted that troops from the JTF Sulu are hot on trail of the fleeing ASG men to neutralize them.