Islamic Militants Killed In Southern Philippine Clash
Three al-Qaeda-linked Islamic militants were killed in a clash with government troops in the southern Philippines, an army commander said Friday. The firefight erupted on Wednesday evening in the boundary of Lantawan town and Isabela City in Basilan province, 900 kilometres south of Manila. Brigadier General Arturo Ortiz, commander of the army special forces, said soldiers were on combat patrol when they encountered an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf militants. The army did not suffer any casualties, he said.Troops have recovered the bodies of three slain rebels, who have been identified as followers of the late Abu Sayyaf commander Hamsiraji Sali, who was the group's chief planner, Ortiz said. The Abu Sayyaf has been responsible for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines, such as the bombing of a passenger ferry in 2004 that killed more than 100 people. The group has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network, which has reportedly financed some of its attacks in the Philippines. It is also believed to be working with the regional Jemaah Islamiyah group, whose two top militants are believed to be hiding on nearby Jolo island, an Abu Sayyaf stronghold.