Bohol Gov says residents being evacuated from clash site
MANILA (UPDATED)- A sub-leader of terror group Abu Sayyaf was killed in a fresh firefight with troops in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town, Bohol on Saturday, the military confirmed.
Military Central Command chief Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao said Joselito Melloria was killed before he reached Inabanga town, where government forces had clashed with the bandit group last week.
An M203 grenade launcher and an M16 rifle were recovered with Melloria's body.
Melloria, alias Abu Alih, was said to have guided the Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga, Bohol for a known kidnap-for-ransom plot. Abducting foreign nationals and locals have been the group's main source of funding.
Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, General Eduardo Año has said that Melloria is "not an ordinary member" of the Abu Sayyaf and that he was projected to become the next leader of Anzar Kilafa Philippines.
The Bohol clash was supposedly his test mission, Año said.
PO1 Reynon Añora of the Clarin Police Station and Lieutenant Colonel Luzmindo Mamaug, spokesperson of Armed Forces of the Philippines Central Command, confirmed the ongoing encounter between troops and bandits.
Mamaug said the firefight started around 12:50 p.m. near the boundary of Barangay Bacani and Barangay Nahawan in Clarin.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chato said they have started evacuating residents from the area.
In clashes on April 11, Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali, also known as Abu Rami, was killed. The government meanwhile lost three soldiers and one policeman.
The clashes prompted several countries to issue travel warnings over Central Visayas.
--with a report from Angelica Fay Saniel and Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News