Twelve people were killed in a clash in Sulu where troops fought with militant groups responsible for the country’s deadliest terror attacks, according to the military.
"It was an early-morning firefight. Our forces were tracking those responsible for some recent kidnappings in the area, including the wife of a soldier," Tutaan added.
The wounded marines are being treated in a military hospital in the southern port of Zamboanga. None of their injuries was life-threatening, said Tutaan.
Colonel Jose Cenabre, commander of a marine brigade in the area, said a marine reconnaissance team under him was involved in the firefight. "The close-quarter combat resulted casualties on both sides," he said.
The Abu Sayyaf, founded in the 1990s using seed money from Al-Qaeda, is blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay and kidnappings of foreign tourists. The group is included in the United States’ government's list of so-called foreign terrorist organisations.