4 killed, 15 hurt in Sulu encounter

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Three Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in an hour-long clash on Saturday in the province of Sulu, the Joint Task Force Sulu reported.

A soldier was also killed while 15 others were wounded during the clash, Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana Jr., Joint Task Force Sulu commander, disclosed.

Sobejana said the encounter broke out at around 8:45 a.m. Saturday in the boundary of Barangays Danag and Buhanginan, Patikul, Sulu.

Sobejana said the clash took place a day after government have recovered two Filipino kidnap victims in the town of Patikul, Sulu.

Recovered around 5 p.m. Friday, July 7, in Patikul, Sulu were Reyjim Rocabo, 41 and Roel Leones, 37 both residents of Tukuran, Zamboanga Del Sur.

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“Rocabo and Leones specifically pinpointed the locations of the targeted Abu Sayyaf group who according to the duo, is keeping captive other kidnap victims including some Vietnamese crewmen,” Sobejana said.

He said the troops from the Army’s 21st Infantry Battalion headed by Major Christopher Genzola engaged in an hour fierce firefight with heavily armed Abu Sayyaf bandits under Almujer Yaddah that resulted to the death of three bandits.

The troops recovered the remains of one of the three slain Abu Sayyaf bandits.

“Our operating troops were also able to see the bandits dragging two body of their companions who appeared to be already lifeless,” Sobejana said.

He said the wounded soldiers were taken to the Camp Teodulfo Bautista Hospital while the remains of the slain soldier was brought to the Joint Task Force Sulu mortuary in Jolo, Sulu.

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“It is with deep sadness to report that one of our soldiers succumb to death and 15 others wounded in their persistent effort to rescue the kidnap victims,” Sobejana said.

He said the troops are in still in the area tracking down the bandits who left several blood stains on their tracks.

“The family of the fallen soldier will immediately be notified and will receive all compensations due to the family of a hero,” he added.

Rocabo and Leones are crewmen of F/B Ramona 2 who were taken forcibly by the Abu Sayyaf bandits along with two other boat crew last December 20, 2016 while fishing at Celebes sea.

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The other two were Noel Besconde, the boat captain, and Roy Ramos, a crew. Rocabo is the boat’s marine diesel mechanic while Leones is also a crew.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits beheaded Besconde on April 13, this year, while the troops rescued Ramos on June 8, also this year, in Barangay Lagtoh, Talipao, Sulu.

The Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives 23 people in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

Of the 23 hostages, 19 are foreigners and four are Filipinos.

“We will continue pressing them on until these terrorists are all neutralized and the KVs (kidnap victims) rescued,” Sobejana said. (Teofilo P. Garcia Jr./PNA)

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