Security forces continue to hunt for Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for the brutal slayings of 7 soldiers in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 2, 2011) – Security forces continue to search for Abu Sayyaf militants blamed for brutal killings of 7 marine soldiers in fierce gun battles in the southern island of Sulu, officials said Tuesday.
Officials said soldiers were scouring Patikul town where the fighting occurred July 30, but there were no reports of fresh fighting. Two of the five marines were beheaded and the three had wounds that nearly decapitated their heads.
The head of one marine was recovered July 31 in the forest of Patikul town, but there were no sightings of gunmen believed to be followers of Radulan Sahiron and Isnilon Hapilon, two of the most notorious leaders of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf group tied by Filipino authorities to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya.
The soldiers were tracking down kidnapped victims - two Filipino fishermen, an Indian national and a Malaysian citizen - when they ran into a community where armed sympathizers of the militant group clashed with a platoon of marines.
Initially, the military reported that 70 armed men were involved in the clash with soldiers for two hours and those Abu Sayyaf militants under Sahiron and Hapilon reinforced their supporters.
Soldiers said some women, armed with automatic weapons, also attacked them.
The Abu Sayyaf has been involved in terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)