MANILA -- A member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was killed in a firefight with government forces in Patikul, Sulu on Saturday afternoon, a military official said.
Brig. Gen. Martin Pinto, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, said his men clashed with ASG members led by Basaron Aruk and Ninok Sappari while conducting a security patrol around Barangay Danag.
He said the encounter, which lasted about 30 minutes, ended after the terrorists withdrew, leaving the dead body of one their members.
"The firefight started when the Marines encountered the group…while conducting law enforcement and security patrol at the aforementioned area," said Pinto.
Pinto said the Abu Sayyaf suffered an undetermined number of injured, while no one was reported killed or injured in the side of the Marines.
"The Marines are continuously conducting clearing operation in the area and intensifying its efforts to track down the ASG that is responsible for the series of kidnapping and extortion activities in the provinces of Sulu," he added.
Abu Sayyaf is holding a number of hostages in Sulu, including Dutchman Elwold Horn and Swiss Lorenzo Vinciguerra , who were both snatched in Tawi-tawi in February 2012.
The terrorist group also seized a Chinese tourist and a Filipino hotel worker in a resort in Sabah, Malaysia. Officials have said the two hostages may have been taken by the Abu Sayyaf to either Tawi?Tawi or Sulu.
However, Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, civil military operations officer of the 2nd Marine Brigade, clarified that the clash was not related to the Sabah kidnapping.
"Were putting route security in the area because a logistics convoy will be passing by.We´re checking on enemy presence in the area," he said.
Lacuesta added that they have no information if the Abu Sayyaf men were in the area to ambush the convoy of the Marines.