ZAMBOANGA CITY: Three soldiers and a militiaman were killed in fierce clashes Tuesday with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) terrorists in the restive southern province of Basilan in Mindanao.
Officials said the fighting erupted in Tuburan town where security forces were chasing after the ASG bandits, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
One civilian was wounded from stray bullets during the fighting.
No other details of the clashes were immediately available but the military previously captured two Abu Sayyaf encampments in Tipo-Tipo town and claimed to have killed at least 45 militants–although no cadavers had been recovered–in a month-long operation in Basilan that also left more than a dozen soldiers injured.
There were no reports about the Abu Sayyaf hostages in Basilan–five Malaysian tugboat crew kidnapped off Sabah recently and 10 Indonesian sailors in Sulu, who were also abducted near the Philippine border who were brought to the two provinces.
The military said operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group are continuing in Basilan and Sulu.
The clashes coincided with an ASG grenade attack on the residence of Catholic priests in the village of Kakuyagan in Jolo town in Sulu.
No one was reported injured in the attack reportedly carried out by two men riding a motorcycle.