Government troops killed an Abu Sayyaf militant in a firefight in the restive province of Basilan, army officials said on Sunday.
Officials said the weekend fighting erupted in the village of Sapah Bulak in Sumisip town where soldiers and pro-government militias were escorting rubber plantation workers.
“The rebels attacked the soldiers, triggering the fighting that killed Omar Akbar Suwaire,” Capt. Jefferson Somera, a spokesperson for the 1st Infantry Division, told The Manila Times.
He said troops recovered the body of the slain rebel and his weapon—an automatic rifle with a grenade launcher—and handed the corpse to municipal officials.
Somera, quoting a report from Lt. Col. Leonardo Dacumos, commander of the 64th Infantry Battalion, said that the fighting lasted over 10 minutes and the rebels fled only to attack again after an hour, sparking a fierce battle.
He said the Abu Sayyaf gunmen tried to retrieve the body of the slain rebel.
“No one was injured or killed in the fighting on the part of the military or the civilians,” Somera said.
He added that Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, the regional army commander, ordered troops to pursue the attackers.
“Gen. Trinidad has ordered the army forces in Basilan to track down the Abu Sayyaf and intensify intelligence operation in the province to prevent similar attacks,” the military spokesperson said.
The Abu Sayyaf is a small but notorious rebel group involved in terrorism and kidnappings for ransom and extortion and operating mostly in Basilan and Sulu provinces, which are all part of the Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.