AL BARKA, Basilan--Three people were killed during a violent clash between Army soldiers and members of the Abu Sayyaf group in a mountainous lair here late afternoon yesterday.
The Army's 18th Infantry Battalion was conducting combat patrol upon receiving a report about the presence of heavily armed bandits led by Nurhassan Jamiri and Long Malat in Bgy Magcawa here when they figured in a heavy exchange of fires with at least 70 bandits.
One Army officer identified as Major Alin Kannung lay dead while three others wounded after the hour-long gun fight with the bandits.
Two Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed while three others were captured by the operating troops during the said clash.
The bandits dispersed and escaped with their casualties after soldiers seized their fighting positions.
The wounded soldiers were transported by a military chopper towards Camp Navarro Hospital in Zamboanga City for treatment.
Kannung's cadaver was brought to the military camp for proper disposition.
The soldiers involved in the encounter praised his exceptional bravery.
"He was a brave leader who dared the hail of bullets in order to take control of the whole patrol. We mourn the loss of a warrior who were with us in our most trying times," said one soldier who was a member of Kannung's team.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels who reside in another village a few kilometers away, were not involved in the clash.
The military has continuously conducted security operations against the Abu Sayyaf bandits who are dubbed as the 'spoilers' of the ongoing peace process between the government and the MILF.