Two of the seven Marine soldiers killed in a clash with Abu Sayyaf members in Patikul, Sulu, on Thursday were beheaded by the bandits, the military said.
Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Omar Tonsay confirmed that two of the fatalities were beheaded while two others suffered “severe” hack wounds.
But a military source said earlier that five of the fatalities, which include a lieutenant, were beheaded and one of them still has a missing head.
Those killed were also reportedly stripped of equipments like night vision goggles and automatic weapons, said the source, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter.
Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang refused to comment on the information.
“We refuse to comment on that and we would rather talk about the gallantry ng sundalo natin, their gallantry in fighting rather than how they died,” he said.
Cabangbang, however, admitted that there are efforts to file criminal charges against the bandits who were involved in the clash.
“May effort na file-an sila ng case, but the priority as of now is ‘yung pursuit operations,” he said.
Pursuit operations are continuing with the help of two MG-520 helicopters, two Huey helicopters, and Naval assets, according to the regional military spokesman.
Meanwhile, Tonsay said 26 soldiers (not 21 as reported earlier) were wounded in the clash.
“Dalawa ‘yung critical (condition) kaya nasa Ciudad de Zamboanga Hospital, ‘yung 10 nandito sa Camp Navarro General Hospital tapos may 11 pa na parating,” Cabangbang said.
Thirteen Abu Sayyaf members were reportedly killed while more than six others were injured, Tonsay said.
The seven fallen soldiers will be given a “heroes welcome” Saturday at the headquarters of the Naval Forces Western Mindanao. (John Roson)
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