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1 soldier, 2 alleged Abu Sayyaf members under Sawadjaan killed in clash with Army in Sulu

A solider from the Philippine Army and two alleged members of the Abu Sayyaf Group under Mundi Sawadjaan were killed after an armed encounter occurred between government troops and the rebel group in Patikul, Sulu on Saturday.

A statement from the Joint Task Force Sulu said that at about 9:45 a.m., the 3rd and the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion exchanged gunfire with the Abu Sayyaf group at Barangay Kabbon Takas in Patikul.

The group was allegedly under Sawadjaan, who was seen as responsible for the Jolo twin bombings on August 24.

Two alleged ASG members were killed in Saturday's encounter, even as two high-powered firearms were recovered from the bandit group.

Meanwhile, one soldier died and seven others were hurt from the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion, according to the Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom).

“I urge the peace-loving people of Mindanao to offer prayers for our operating troops, for the fallen and his bereaved family, for the speedy recovery of the wounded, and for everyone’s safety,” Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Jr., WestMinCom Commander.

In a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Lieutenant Colonel Rolando Mateo, spokesperson of the General Staff for Civil Military Operations of the 11th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army,  meanwhile said: "Meron nakuhang isang katawan ng Abu Sayyaf doon sa engkuwentro at isang mataas na kalibre ng armas, 'yung Armalite with attached M20 trigger... Patay na 'yung Abu Sayyaf noong na-recover ang katawan ng ating mga sundalo."

He said the encounter was an offshoot of their pursuit operation against the group of Sawadjaan.

Mateo said the incident happened despite the recent signing of the People’s Peace Covenant, where the people of Patikul declared the local terror group as persona non grata in their respective communities.

The twin bomb attacks that rocked Jolo, Sulu on Monday killed 15 people and injured 74.

The fatalities included seven soldiers, six civilians, one policeman, and the female suicide bomber who caused the second explosion in Barangay Walled City at 1 p.m.

The first explosion transpired at 11:55 a.m. in front of Paradise grocery store when an improvised explosive device, placed on a parked motorcycle, exploded.

The incident prompted authorities to put the entire town of Jolo under lockdown so further atrocities could be prevented. —Jamil Santos/KG/MDM, GMA News