MANILA, Philippines – Two soldiers were killed in a pre-dawn attack by Islamic extremists in the conflict-racked southern Philippines on Monday, December 28, a local military spokesman said.
Abu Sayyaf guerrillas fired at a military detachment in the jungles near Talipao town on Jolo island, sparking a 15-minute gun battle that also left another soldier wounded, said Major Filemon Tan.
Jolo is a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a small band notorious for kidnapping foreign tourists and bomb attacks. The group recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists.
“It was a treacherous attack. They used the cover of night,” Tan told the Agence France-Presse.
It was unclear how many attacked the 20 Marines manning the detachment in the remote village of Mapallam, he said.
An attack by a separate group of Muslim guerillas in the main southern island of Mindanao over Christmas left 10 civilians dead, according to the military.
Abu Sayyaf are holding two Canadian tourists and a Norwegian businessman abducted in the southern Philippines in September, along with a Dutch birdwatcher kidnapped in 2012.
They are also widely believed to be holding an Italian pizza restaurant owner snatched in the region in October.
The decapitated head of a Malaysian whom the group had kidnapped in May was found in Jolo last month.
Listed as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department, the Abu Sayyaf are responsible for the worst terrorist attacks in the Philippines, including the bombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that killed over 100 people. – Rappler.com