ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Mar. 30, 2011) – Three Abu Sayyaf gunmen were killed in a clash Wednesday in the southern Philippine province where security forces are battling the homegrown terror group.
Officials said the fighting erupted in Patikul town where marine soldiers were searching for three fishermen kidnapped by gunmen on March 19.
“The firefight lasted almost 50 minutes and three Abu Sayyaf are killed in the clash,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, told the Mindanao Examiner.
Cabangbang said there were no reports of casualties on the military side and that troops were pursuing the militants led by an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Jamiri Jawari.
It was not immediately known if Jamiri was among the dead or wounded in the clash.
He said troops had recovered the seaman book of Renato Panisales, one of the three seized fishermen, but there were no signs of any of the hostages.
But the recovery of the seaman book bolstered suspicion by the military that the trio was kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf.
Police earlier said the fishermen were kidnapped by pirates off Sulu Archipelago, a chain of islands between Zamboanga City and Sabah in the southwestern part of the country.
The militant group with links to Jemaah Islamiya is reportedly negotiating with the employer of the fishermen in Zamboanga City and that the kidnappers have demanded P10 million ransoms in exchange for the safe release of the three hostages. (Mindanao Examiner)