MANILA – Malacañang on Saturday denounced the Abu Sayyaf Group’s (ASG) latest attack in Patikul town in Sulu province that killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 14 others.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque lamented that the enemies of the state “choose no date and occasion” in attacking government troops.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the latest incident in Patikul, Sulu,” Roque said in a statement.

Eleven soldiers were killed while 14 others were wounded in a firefight between government forces and ASG bandits in Danag village in Patikul, Sulu on Friday afternoon.

It was the government troops’ second encounter with ASG members following the April 16 confrontation that wounded three soldiers.

Roque said the bandits who attacked the soldiers on Friday were believed to be under ASG leaders Radullan Sahiron and Hatib Hadjan Sawadjaan.

Sawadjaan is reportedly acting as emir of the Islamic State in the Philippines.

Roque offered the Palace’s condolences to the families of the slain soldiers.

“The Office of the President expresses its sincerest condolences to the bereaved families left behind by our brave soldiers who fought hard and paid the ultimate sacrifice to secure our community. We honor and pray for the fallen,” he said.

Roque said he was saddened that the encounter happened amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak in the country.

Despite this, he ensured that the government is ready to stop terror attacks while the country is fighting Covid-19.

“Let this serve as a warning to all: Our authorities remain ready and prepared to crush the enemies of the government and quell any armed attack amid the existing state of calamity and public health emergency,” Roque said. (PNA)

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