3 Abu Sayyaf gunmen slain in clash (3:05 pm)
ZAMBOANGA # Three Abu Sayyaf gunmen were slain Friday in a clash with government troops in Basilan Island, the military said.
Local army chief, Brig. Gen. Bonifacio Ramos, said civilians tipped off the military on the presence of Abu Sayyaf forces in an isolated area in Tuburan town.
“We killed three terrorists and troops are hunting down the others who were able to escape. Offensive operation is still ongoing,” Ramos said, adding that two rifles, ammunition and backpacks were recovered.
The Abu Sayyaf is a rebel group that has been kidnapping Christians and foreigners in Mindanao for more than a decade. The group has been linked by both Washington and Manila to the al-Qaeda network of Osama bin Laden.
Two American hostages have died in Abu Sayyaf hands since 2001, leading the United States to provide increased assistance and training to local forces hunting down the armed group. AFP