World Bulletin / News Desk
Five other members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary and six soldiers were wounded in fighting with Abu Sayyaf militants on Basilan island.
Lt. Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said a fierce gun battle broke out between patrolling troops and Abu Sayyaf extremists in Sumisip town early Monday morning.
"Five members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary sustained wounds, while three other members were killed in action. Six soldiers were also wounded during the second encounter," Galvez confirmed in a statement.
He said personnel of the 4th Special Forces Battalion under the Joint Task Force Basilan encountered the bandits while they were conducting security patrol in the area at around 7.15 a.m. local time (2315GMT Sunday).
At the time of publication, special forces troops were tracking the militants from a blood trail. The military did not provide any information on the number of Abu Sayyaf casualties.
Last Thursday President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government troops to finish off Abu Sayyaf in the country's southern regions.
"No turning back on terrorism and drugs. These ruin our country. We won’t get anything out of the Abu Sayyaf," Duterte said during his visit to the wounded soldiers in Jolo, Sulu. He added: "All they want is kill, kill, kill, kill. That’s all they know. Let’s finish them."
The Abu Sayyaf group is still holding captive dozens of hostages including Filipinos, Vietnamese nationals, Indonesians and a Dutch national.
Since 1991, Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.