One of the members killed was also a top aide of Radullan Sahiron, a Moro Islamic militant, who leads the Abu Sayyaf.
In four separate encounters with the Joint Task Force Sulu (JTFS), 12 individuals suspected to be members of the Philippines branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Abu Sayyaf, were killed.
One of the members killed was also a top aide, of Radullan Sahiron, a Moro Islamic militant who leads the Abu Sayyaf. The aide, Julie Ikit, is said to be the second in command. Sahiron is on the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation most wanted terrorists list, with a bounty of US$1 million.
The encounters took place in different areas in Patikul, which also resulted in the injury of at least 24 people, including seven soldiers. The incident, along with “the number of Abu casualties during the series of encounters will have a dire effect on the Abu Sayyaf’s morale and will to fight,” Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo said.
The first of the encounters, a 45-minute gun battle, between members of the 32nd Infantry Battalion and about a hundred Abu fighters took place in Sitio Bud Taming, Barangay Panglayahan.
#HoyMismo El ejército filipino mató a 12 milicianos de Abu Sayyaf en una provincia donde se les atribuye un ataque letal con bomba a una catedral católica. pic.twitter.com/0lAr27CYln
"#Today the Philippine Army killed 12 Abu Sayyaf militiamen in a province where they are credited with a lethal bomb attack on a Catholic cathedral."
In the second encounter, spokesperson for the JTFS Major Gerald Monfort says "the Abus were caught by surprise. They immediately scampered to different directions while they were being pursued by the government troops. A body of an unidentified Abu was also recovered during the quick search." The attack involved some 80 Abu fighters and soldiers of the 1st Scout Ranger Battalion led by Monfort.
The third encounter was the longest gunfight of the encounters, which lasted for over two hours despite their only being 10 Abu fighters involved. The final encounter involved some Abu fighters who had fled from the first clash with the 32nd Infantry Battalion.
The encounters occurred at 10:30 a.m., 3:40 p.m., 5:00 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. respectively. Only two bodies of the 12 individuals killed had been recovered by military authorities, including Ikit's.
Pabayo praises the troops' efforts and the community's collaboration, saying that “this is what we call hundred percent support and cooperation from the local community which led to the successful conduct of operations and that troops’ morale is high due to continuous support from the people.”