Three civilians, two of them students, were injured as Abu Sayyaf members and village watchmen clashed near a school in Patikul, Sulu, Friday afternoon, the military said.

Injured were Nurhaida Jadja, 18, and Marni Suhuri, 17, both students of the Patikul National High School; and Hadji Anni Abubayong, 61, said Brigadier General Alan Arrojado, commander of the Armed Forces’ Joint Task Group-Sulu.

All three were injured by shrapnel from M203 grenades fired by the Abu Sayyaf, with the students getting hit on the head and neck, Arrojado said in a text message.

The fighting erupted past 2 p.m. near the Patikul National High School in Brgy. Taglibi.

Minutes earlier, about 40 Abu Sayyaf members led by Muammar Askali alias “Abu Rami” set fire to an abandoned military detachment in that village, Arrojado said.

One Engineer Makapagal Tammang, who handles a road project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Brgy. Pandanun, then passed by Taglibi on a local councilor’s pick-up.

As Tammang neared the old detachment, gunmen flagged down the pick-up and tried to take Tammang by force, Arrojado said.

Firefight erupted when members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) escorting Tammang resisted, he said.

Fighting lasted for about 20 minutes. Other BPAT members reinforced their colleagues, then the Abu Sayyaf to withdrew towards Brgy. Kabuntakas via Brgy. Bakung.

No casualties were reported among the BPAT members and the Abu Sayyaf, while the injured civilians were brought to the Integrated Provincial Health Office, Arrojado said. (John Roson)

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