MANILA -- The Abu Sayyaf Group wants to take control of Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan province and hoist the flag of Islamic State (ISIS) in the municipal hall, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman confirmed Sunday.
Hataman told ABS-CBN News that the Abu Sayyaf wants to lay siege in the Poblacion area of Tipo-Tipo.
The governor, however, denied that ISIS militants are already operating in Basilan despite the presence of local bandits who have declared allegiance to the international terror group.
The Abu Sayyaf has reportedly pledged support to ISIS in a bid to attract funding.
Meanwhile, sporadic gunfight continued Saturday in Tipo-Tipo as government troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf fighters who attacked several villages there and in neighboring Ungkaya Pukan and Al Barka towns last week.
Tipo-Tipo police chief Inpector Sali Ayap said mortar shelling targeted reported hideouts of the militants.
No civilian, government fighter or Abu Sayyaf rebel was reported injured or killed so far, Ayap said.
Ongoing military offensives have displaced over a thousand families.
Hataman said he already ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) ARMM office to extend relief assistance to the refugees.