World Bulletin / News Desk
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a statement, “Sulu encounters, Abu Sayyaf Group enemy side as per intelligence report, 9 killed, 13 wounded.”
Around six soldiers were injured in the fighting that broke out after government troops encountered around 130 armed men in Kabuntakas village in Patikul town.
The militants are believed to be followers of one-armed Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron, who is on a United States Department of State wanted list with a $1 million reward for his capture.
The fighting comes after the Philippine’s’ new president, Rodrigo Duterte, installed his Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Ricardo Visaya last week.
In his speech at the ceremony, Visaya had pledged to be “unrelenting” against the Abu Sayyaf and to “apply our military strength to suppress them, hunt them down and finish them".
Earlier this year, the Abu Sayyaf beheaded two Canadian hostages after ransoms failed to be paid. It has threatened to decapitate a Norwegian captured with them in September.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.