World Bulletin / News Desk
At least 15 members of an al-Qaeda-linked militant group and three soldiers have been killed in operations against the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines’ Muslim south, according to the military Tuesday.
Major Filemon Tan, Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, said that 10 troops and seven militants were also recorded injured in two days of clashes in Macalang village of Basilan province as of 5.30 a.m. Wednesday (2130GMT Tuesday), the state-run Philippine News Agency reported.
Fighting between security forces and the Abu Sayyaf has been ongoing for three days following orders by President Benigno Aquino III to intensify military operations against the group.
The directive came after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called upon authorities to take action in mid-November after a Malaysian national kidnapped from a seaside town in the country was beheaded in the southern Philippine island province of Sulu – another Abu Sayyaf stronghold.
The group -- based primarily out of Sulu and Basilan – is believed to still be holding around eight hostages, including foreigners of Dutch, Canadian, Norwegian and Italian nationality.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortions in a self-determined fight for an independent Islamic province in the Philippines.
It is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release.
While the Abu Sayyaf claims to have pledged allegiance to ISIL, Philippine security officials have downplayed reports by saying that the Middle East-based group does not have a presence in southern Mindanao island.Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Aralık 2015, 12:20