MANILA- Military forces engaged joint members of the Maute and the Abu Sayyaf groups in a gun battle in Barangay Gakap, Piagapo town in Lanao del Sur on Saturday morning.
No casualties were reported as of posting time.
The firefight was the result of continuous military operations against the terrorists, the army said.
Lieutenant Colonel Jo-ar Herera, Tabak 1st Division spokesperson, confirmed that the Maute and Abu Sayyaf have joined forces as both groups are historically allies.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines used airstrikes to overwhelm the two groups.
Herera said Joint Task Force Kampilan, led by Brigadier Generals Joselito Bautista and Nixon Fortes, has been conducting operations to contain the terrorists in the area, adding that the military is following directives from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Herera said they are also confirming whether the Abu Sayyaf is still led by Isnilon Hapilon, who was first reported killed in Butig 2 months ago.
The military has also secured vital installations that may be targeted by the terrorist group to divert the authorities' attention.
The local government unit has evacuated about 200 families.