Reports from the headquarters of Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom) here said one MNLF rebel was killed while another one was captured.
Soldiers from the 2nd t Ranger Battalion were conducting combat clearing patrol at Bitan-ag complex in Panamao when they encountered the group of Habier Malik.
Lieutenant General Eugenio Cedo, WesMinCom chief, said the firefight lasted for a few minutes, which resulted to the killing of one rebel and the capture of another.
Cedo said his men recovered one M16 rifle with M203 grenade launcher attachment and that no casualty was reported on the military side during the encounter.
“Presently, the camps recovered are now occupied and defended by the Marines and other government forces,” he said.
The WesMinCom chief has ordered the military to place the entire Sulu under “highest alert status” against possible attacks of Malik group and to pursue the Abu Sayyaf group.
He also stressed to the troops to observe the peace process with the MNLF.
Last Friday, the group of Malik launched a series of mortar bombardment and attacks against forces including the Municipal Hall Panamao.
The military said the attacks triggered a heavy fighting which led to the killing of at least 12 rebels and the wounding of many others, including two civilians and several Marines.
In his statement, Cedo reiterated that the government troops are only after the Abu Sayyaf militants who are seeking refuge inside the MNLF territory.
He pointed out that the military forces did not do anything to provoke the MNLF, saying that it was the rebels who started the conflict by bombarding the Marines.
“Our troops have to defend themselves to prevent further damage and stop the escalation of the conflict,” he said. (HG)