World Bulletin / News Desk
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said in a statement Thursday that Abu Sayyaf militants had shot the trio dead in Sulu around 8.00 a.m. (0000GMT) Thursday.
"They were procuring provisions in Barangay Manilop, Indanan when they were waylaid and shot by an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf," said Tan.
Tan said troops had rushed to the crime scene, but the gunmen had already escaped.
Earlier Thursday, the military announced 15 more Abu Sayyaf bandits had been killed as government troops continued operations in the mountains of Tipo-Tipo, in Basilan.
Previous reports have said that 22 militants had been killed in Sulu and 18 in Basilan.
Tan said the offensive, which started July 5, had also left 14 soldiers wounded, including five army rangers, who were hit by an improvised explosive device.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf group -- 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 province in the Philippines.
Earlier this year, the group beheaded two Canadian hostages after ransoms failed to be paid. It has threatened to decapitate a Norwegian captured with them in September if a P300-million ($6 million) ransom demand is not met.