ZAMBOANGA CITY: A soldier died as sporadic clashes between the military and Abu Sayyaf forces continued on Friday in the provinces of Sulu and Basilan, where militants are holding captive at least 10 foreigners in the restive Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
There were no immediate reports of casualties in the fighting, which began on July 3, but on Thursday, troops battled with about 130 gunmen under Radulan Sahiron in the village of Kabuntakas in Patikul town in Sulu, where a soldier died and six troopers were wounded.
No other details were provided by the military, except that security forces were continuing operations in Sulu against the radical group blamed for terrorism and ransom kidnappings in the troubled region.
The army is also battling about 200 Abu Sayyaf fighters in nearby Basilan, where troops are targeting to kill terrorist leader Isnilon Hapilon and another senior commander, Puruji Indama.
Fighting was raging between the two groups since Wednesday in Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo towns.
The military – quoting intelligence reports – insists many Abu Sayyaf fighters had been killed and wounded in the battle field, but not a single body had been recovered by soldiers in the provinces.