MAGUINDANAO, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Seven Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed while 17 soldiers were wounded in gunfights Saturday in Patikul town in Sulu.
In an initial statement Saturday, the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City said the hostilities in Barangay Bakong, Patikul erupted when Abu Sayyaf terrorists opened fire on soldiers approaching their lair there from two directions.
The soldiers returned fire and succeeded in driving their attackers away after killing seven of them in the two-hour skirmishes.
The soldiers were to check in Barangay Bakong the reported presence there of the notorious Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron and his lieutenants, Hatib Sawadjaan and Idang Susukan, all wanted for heinous crimes, including multiple murder, frustrated murder and kidnappings.
In a report to WestMinCom, Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo of the military-led anti-terror Joint Task Force Sulu said seven bodies of Abu Sayyaf bandits were found scattered in the scenes of the running firefights.
Six other bandits were reportedly wounded in the encounter.
Pabayo also reported to the WestMinCom that 17 of his men were wounded as they traded shots with Sahiron and his followers.
Sawadjaan reportedly sustained a bullet wound in the lower torso.
Soldiers also found along their escape route an assault rifle with blood stains and ammunition of assorted calibers.