this story has been updated, see update here

Eight government soldiers and four Abu Sayyaf members were killed in a clash in several hours of fighting in Sumisip, Basilan, Thursday, military officials said.

Three soldiers and two Abu Sayyaf members were also injured in the clash in Brgy. Upper Cabengbeng, Maj. Gen. Rainier Cruz, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

Capt. Albert Caber, spokesman of the 1st ID, said another soldier expired in the afternoon.

According to Cruz, 50 members of the 11th Scout Ranger Company, led by Capt. Rholie Villaluna, were conducting operations around 7:30 a.m. when they encountered an undetermined number of fully-armed men.

The armed men are the same ones who ambushed a truck of the (Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development Cooperative (Tarbidc) in Brgy. Sapah Bulak, also in Sumisip, last July 11, Caber said.

Six people, mostly rubber tappers, were killed while 22 others were wounded in the ambush.

Caber said sporadic fighting was still going on in Upper Cabengbeng around 2 p.m.

“All troops were alerted for reinforcement. The Special Forces has already coordinated with higher offices for the possible deployment of air assets,” he added.

On Wednesday morning, a group of about 20 suspected Abu Sayyaf members also attacked a patrol base of soldiers and militiamen guarding Tarbidc, also in Brgy. Cabengbeng. No casualties were reported on both sides.

Major Harold Cabunoc, Army spokesman, said operations against the bandits will continue.

“We could not allow the criminals to disturb the peace, targeting innocent civilians in a mixed Muslim-Christian community in Tumahubong village. Banditry has no place in a civilized world,” he said. (John Roson)

this story has been updated, see update here

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