TWO childrens and six members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) on Saturday were killed while 15 others were injured in an encounter in Patikul, Sulu.
Among those wounded were three children, five soldiers and seven terrorists.
Joint Task Force Sulu commander Brig. General Divino Rey Pabayo Jr. identified the slain children as 1-year-old Saiful Abdun and Jahida Usab, 12.
The wounded victims were rushed to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) spokesperson Col. Gerry Besana said members of the 13th Special Forces Company of the Philippine Army were conducting a dialogue with members of the community about livelihood and infrastructure projects being planned by the government in Bgy. Isagan, Patikul when at least 30 members of the ASG led by sub-leader Mundi Sawadjaan arrived and attacked the soldiers at 5:25 p.m. on Saturday.
The gunfight lasted for 30 minutes when terrorists withdrew after losing six of its fighters. Seven other bandits were injured.
When the firefight was over, two children were found dead.
One of the injured soldiers was identified as platoon leader 2Lt Christian Capiz.
Capiz said he tried his best to rescue the three children who were caught in the crossfire.
“I could have easily withdrawn my troops to a safer position, but I cannot leave behind the trapped and panicking children. So, I ordered my men to hold their position and prevent the advance of the ASG at all cost,” Capiz said.
WestMinCom chief Lt. Gen. Arnel dela Vega condemned the attack.
“On behalf of the men and women of WestMinCom, I would like to personally extend my condolences to the bereaved family of the innocent children who were slain by the terrorists,” Dela Vega said.
Dela Vega assured the public that the military will not stop their focused operation against the bandits to ensure the safety of the people.