MANILA - Abu Sayyaf members who are believed to be holding a Jordanian journalist hostage beheaded 4 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters in heavy clashes between the 2 sides over the weekend, the military confirmed on Wednesday.
The fighting in Sulu, which flared up in the uplands of Patikul town, resulted in the deaths of at least 14 Abu Sayyaf and MNLF members, Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Brigade have been deployed in the area to prevent the violence from spilling over to other communities.
"The effort to the AFP there is to contain the violence. The violence is limited, we're talking about a small area and prevent it from spreading. That is the effort of the military, to contain the trouble and address the internally-displaced persons," said Bautista.
"Our role there is to keep peace," he added. "We don't want a spillover of the violence and we are also helping…the families who were displaced because of the fighting."
The Armed Forces chief and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin have been briefed on the situation in the province.
Clashes erupted between the 2 sides because an alleged "misunderstanding."
MNLF troops are helping government troops contain Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the province who have kidnapped several foreigners for ransom.
"Our soldiers should keep their vigilance. As much as possible, we don't want a spread of the fighting," Bautista said.