Two Abu Sayyaf gunmen and four soldiers were killed, with 17 other soldiers injured, in a clash in Sulu's Patikul town, the military reported on Saturday.
Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) spokesman Major Arvin Encinas said that the Army's 6th Special Forces Battalion was on a combat operation in Barangay Kan-Ague on Friday when they engaged about 40 ASG gunmen in a firefight at around 8:25 a.m.
The armed encounter lasted for about 40 minutes.
Encinas said the terrorists were led by sub-leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who was linked to several suicide bombings in the province in the past years.
Encinas explained that the large number of casualties was due to the gunmen being in an advantageous position.
"[An encounter's outcome would] depend on the terrain. The enemy had the advantage, thus we had a large number of casualties," Encinas said.
He said the two Abu Sayyaf fatalities were "confirmed" by intelligence information.
Government forces were still pursuing the ASG as of Saturday afternoon, with the gunmen fleeing in a southeastern direction. — DVM, GMA News