Six Abu Sayyaf members and three soldiers were killed during a clash in Patikul, Sulu Friday amid the celebration of Eid al-Adha.
Troops recovered three of the six slain Islamic militants and are still trying to identify them, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman Maj. Arvin Encinas said.
One of them still had a headband bearing the black flag used by ISIS, photos shared by Encinas showed.
Of the slain soldiers, one was a sergeant and the two had ranks of private first class. All three were members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, Encinas said.
Their names are still being withheld by the military as their families have yet to be informed.
The clash occurred in Brgy. Taong, around 11 a.m.
Members of the 32nd IB were conducting security operations when they were fired upon by an undetermined number of militants, Encinas said.
This prompted the troops to retaliate and fighting lasted for about 40 minutes, he said.
Aside from the fatalities, the clash also resulted in the wounding of three other soldiers.
“Three of our brave soldiers succumbed to death while defending the people of Sulu. We seek for prayers for the eternal repose of their souls and the speedy recovery of the wounded,” said Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan, Joint Task Force-Sulu commander.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, Wesmincom chief, said operations against the Abu Sayyaf will continue despite losses among troops.
“Our forces from the JTF-Sulu are determined to pursue the fleeing enemies in honor of their fallen comrades.”