ZAMBOANGA CITY – Security forces killed at least 11 Abu Sayyaf fighters in fierce clashes that also left 3 soldiers dead and two more injured on Tuesday in a coastal town in Bohol province in central Philippines, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted in the village of Ilaya in Inabanga town where civilians reported to the police the presence of heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf jihadists who arrived in several speedboats.
The military’s Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City also provided intelligence to its counterpart in the Visayas on the movement of the Abu Sayyaf.
It said continuous military operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and Sulu provinces in southern Philippines constricted or limited the capability of the ISIS-affiliated group to mount ransom kidnappings or terrorism in the restive region and forced the jihadists to strike in other areas.
It said at least 11 Abu Sayyaf had been killed in the fighting. The clashes came after the U.S. Embassy warned it citizens to avoid central Philippines due to threats of kidnapping and terrorism. It was unknown whether the Western Mindanao Command share the same information to the U.S. Embassy or not. Or whether the U.S. Embassy provided intelligence to the Western Mindanao Command.
In May 2001, Abu Sayyaf fighters also raided a posh resort called Dos Palmas and seized over a dozen tourists, including an American missionary couple Martin and Gracia Burnham and California man Guillermo Sobero. They brought the hostages in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region, and ransomed off some of their wealthy victims.
Guillermo and Martin were killed separately while Gracia - although shot and wounded during a firefight between troops and jihadists - was rescued in Zamboanga del Norte province where the Abu Sayyaf hid their hostages. (Mindanao Examiner)