Govt troops kill three rebels in Mindanao

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Three members of militant Abu Sayyaf were killed by government troops in separate incidents in Mindanao.

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Two rebels died when Zamboanga police raided Abu Sayyaf’s hideout in Santa Maria town on Monday.

Officials said six rebels were captured while a policeman was also injured during the raid.

The commandos were part of a composite police force sent to serve the arrest warrants against the gang tagged as behind the spate of kidnappings for ransom in Zamboanga and other areas in western Mindanao.

Regional police spokesperson Insp. Joseph Ortega said commandos recovered four .45 caliber pistols and three fragmentation grenades from the hideout.

“We are still interrogating those arrested to determine the extent of their criminal operation. Two gunmen were killed by police forces in the firefight,” Ortega told The Manila Times.

He said the operation was launched following a long surveillance by the police.

At least seven police units were involved in the operation. The names of those captured were not released but reports said one of them is a policeman. It was unknown if any of the gang’s leaders were among those arrested.

In Sulu, a rebel was killed during a clash with military troops in the southern town of Patikul.

Officials said the troops were patrolling the town when they ran into a group of Abu Sayyaf gunmen and a firefight ensued.

There was no report of military or civilian casualties in Saturday’s fighting.

The troops failed to recover the body of the slain gunman because officials claimed the cadaver was allegedly taken by fleeing rebels.

No other details were made available by the military about the clash or whether the Abu Sayyaf group involved in the fighting was behind the spate of kidnappings and terrorism in the region.

On Friday, troops also battled about 60 Abu Sayyaf rebels who killed two soldiers and wounded 28 others in Basilan, one of five provinces under the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.

The military said 12 rebels were killed in the fierce clashes, but none of the bodies were recovered and security officials admitted the casualty report came from civilians in the towns of Ungkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo where the fighting erupted.

There was no military confirmation of the report.

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