Two Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed while one soldier was slightly wounded after a gun battle broke out between the bandits and security forces in Talipao, Sulu Monday evening.
Brigadier General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said government troops received information from a civilian that some Abu Sayyaf bandits were seen in the village of Mabahay in the town of Talipao with three Indonesian hostages.
However, government forces were met with heavy gunfire from the bandits led by sub leader Sibih Pisih. The firefight lasted for more than 10 minutes, which left two bandits killed and one soldier wounded.
The military also recovered an M4 rifle left by the bandits in the encounter site.
Sobejana said there has been no letup in their offensives against the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu, amid the rising tension in Marawi City as government forces pursue the Maute group.
Tighter security has been implemented in Sulu following the declaration of martial law by President Rodrigo Duterte last week. Sobejana said curfew is observed in Jolo from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. the following day.
However, specific exemptions are provided such as attending prayer in mosques during dawn and medical emergency.
The military, police and the provincial government is discussing implementing the ID system, which would require Sulu residents to show their valid identification cards at security checkpoints.
Meanwhile, a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf was nabbed in Zamboanga City Port area on Tuesday morning.
Colonel Leonen Nicolas, the commander of Task Force Zamboanga, identified the suspected bandit as Kimhar Asusi, 32, and a resident of Parang, Sulu.
Asusi was arrested while disembarking from a Sulu-Zamboanga bound commercial ferry. Nicolas said Asusi was positively identified by their assets as a member of the Abu Sayyaf operating in Sulu.
He said Asusi has a standing arrest warrant for his alleged participation in the 2000 Sipadan kidnapping.
Reports also said that Asusi was among the bandits whom the military encountered in Barangay Buanza, Indanan, Sulu last year, which resulted to the successful rescue of two members of Philippines Coast Guard.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Asusi denied the allegations. He said he never joined the Abu Sayyaf. He also denied being a supporter or sympathizer of the group.
Asusi claimed the authorities mistakenly accused him as a member of the Abu Sayyaf due to his fresh eye injury, which he claimed, he sustained after a freak accident while preparing his fishing gear.
Asusi said he decided to seek further medical attention in Zamboanga City due to the limitations of the hospital equipment and facilities in Jolo.