MANILA, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Five members of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf were killed and seven government soldiers were wounded following a firefight on Sunday morning in the southern Philippines, a security official said.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, the commander of the military's Joint Task Force Sulu, said the government troops were sent to a village on the Sulu island to rescue victims held by the Abu Sayyaf group.
Sobejana said the soldiers were fired upon by the terrorists around 4:15 a.m. (local time) Sunday as soon as they arrived at the enemy lair, leading to a firefight with about 30 Abu Sayyaf men.
"Upon arrival in the area, our troops were fired upon by the enemy, resulting to an exchange of gun fires," said Sobejana.
"Our troops were very careful because we believe there were kidnap victims with the Abu Sayyaf, however, the bandits fired at our marines first prompting our forces to fire back," said Sobejana.
The Abu Sayyaf is said to be holding about a dozen foreign and Filipino victims in Sulu. It was not immediately clear how many victims were being held by the Abu Sayyaf men engaged by the soldiers.
The military said the terrorists withdrew after they realized the superiority of the firepower of the soldiers.
Meanwhile, the seven wounded soldiers were evacuated to a military hospital for treatment.