At least 700 individuals left their homes in Inabanga, Bohol after government forces launched an operation against suspected Abu Sayyaf members who were spotted in the province, a local official said Tuesday.
At least 4 government forces and five suspected terrorists were killed in the firefight that started at 5 a.m., Tuesday, in Barangay Napo, military officials said.
The 700 people in three separate evacuation centers voluntarily evacuated out of fear, Inabanga Mayor Josephine Socorro Jumamoy said.
No civilian has been reported hurt, Jumamoy added.
The provincial government and military personnel have assured tourists and other Boholanos not to worry about the clash as the incident is "contained."
"The encounter is contained in Napo, Inabanga, the rest of Bohol is okay," Bohol Governor Edgardo Chatto said.
Tourists in Bohol are encouraged to stay and continue their vacations because security forces are addressing the incursion, Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Public Affairs chief, added.
The military also lauded the local community's vigilance that led to the immediate operation against the armed men.
"Government security forces simply reinforced the vigilance of the Boholanos who organized themselves into a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat group," the AFP said in a statement.
--- with reports from Carine Era Asutilla Lapid, ABS-CBN News.