MANILA • Philippine government forces fought hundreds of Islamic militants on two remote islands yesterday, with the military aircraft-backed campaign leaving up to 10 people dead, the army said.
The gun battles on the southern islands of Jolo and Basilan followed orders by new President Rodrigo Duterte for the security services to go after the Abu Sayyaf extremist group. The fighting continued till late yesterday, with more troops being rushed in, backed by military aircraft and artillery, regional military spokesman Filemon Tan told reporters.
Army troops hunting down Abu Sayyaf units clashed with about 130 of the gunmen near the Jolo town of Patikul, killing a soldier and wounding six others, Major Tan said.
Military intelligence reports later determined that nine Abu Sayyaf members were killed and 13 others wounded, he added.
Separately, up to 200 Abu Sayyaf gunmen have been fighting running gun battles with government forces in three Basilan towns since Wednesday, Major Tan said, but he did not say if there were casualties.
Meanwhile, several more suspects with links to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have been picked up in the wake of the Puchong nightclub bombing, Malaysian Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday. He added that a manhunt for the two main Puchong grenade attack suspects was still on.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK