Nine Abu Sayyaf Group members killed in S. Philippines


MANILA, July 7 (Xinhua) — Nine Abu Sayyaf Group members were killed and 13 others were injured in a firefight with the Philippine military in south Philippine province of Sulu on Thursday, local authorities said.
Filemon Tan, spokesperson of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the soldiers were conducting focused military operation in Patikul town when they caught up with about 130 Abu Sayyaf members.
He said the firefight broke out at around 3 p.m. at the vicinity of barangay Kabuntakas, involving troops from the Army’s 45th Infantry Battalion.
Citing initial reports from the field, Tan said a soldier was killed and six others were injured in the skirmishes.
Government forces have stepped up operations to rescue a dozen of foreign and Filipino hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group in the province, including seven Indonesian tugboat crew members abducted on June 22 at the Sulu Sea.
The group recently beheaded two Canadian nationals they seized, along with the Norwegian and a female Filipino, from a posh resort in Samal Island, Davao del Norte.

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