World Bulletin / News Desk
Philippine government forces claim to have killed three gunmen belonging to an al-Qaeda-linked group in the troubled southern island province of Basilan.
In a statement Sunday, the military said Joint Task Group Basilan encountered a group of 50 Abu Sayyaf militants at around 11.30 a.m. (0330GMT) in the jungle-surrounded village of Baiwas.
Military spokesperson Capt. Roy Vincent Trinidad said the encounter had occurred while the task group was conducting a sweep of the area, triggering a 40-minute shootout.
“The Abu Sayyaf bandits sustained casualties that prompted them to withdraw in different directions,” he said.
Trinidad added that four wounded soldiers had immediately been evacuated while troops pursued the escaping militants in nearby mountains.
The military has been carrying out focused offensives against the Abu Sayyaf on the islands of Basilan and Sulu to pressure the group into releasing their hostages, who include foreigners, he said.
Soldiers in Sulu have reportedly been involved in a series of firefights with gunmen over the last week.
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.Last Mod: 25 Ekim 2015, 17:45