MANILA (28-Oct-2012/PNA) – Three Marines and two Abu Sayyaf (ASG) rebels were killed during a clash in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, Sulu on Sunday morning prompting the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) to launch an air, sea and ground assaults against the armed group.
The firefight also left 10 other soldiers wounded, said newly designated Westmincom chief Maj. Gen. Rey Ardo.
Ardo said that elements of 6th Marine Battalion Landing Team were conducting search operations for kidnap victims in the village of Bakong when they were fired upon by ASG men headed by “Tahil Sali” and “Radullah Sahiron” at around 6:30 a.m.
Although outnumbered, the platoon fought back while the number of the rebels reportedly mounted while the shooting raged on.
Two MG-520 attack helicopters were deployed at mid-morning to assist ground troops and naval forces in the shores of Patikul, a known lair of the ASG.
The helicopter gunships took turns in pounding ASG positions in the thickly forested portion of Patikul.
Ardo said the Westmincom withheld the identities of the fallen Marines until their next of kin are informed.
Westmincom spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said one of the two slain ASG rebels was identified only as a certain Kaisar.
Cabangbang did not identify the kidnap victims sighted in Barangay Bakong, Patikul, but among those believed to be in the hands of the Abu Sayyaf are Australian adventurer Warren Rodwell, 57, and wildlife photographers Ewold Horn, 52, from Holland, and Lorenzo Vinciguerre, 47, from Switzerland.
Rodwell was kidnapped last December from his home in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay while Horn and Vinciguerre were kidnapped in February this year in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi.
There were no updates on the fate of the hostages as the government has imposed a news blackout on the kidnapping incidents.(PNA)