ZAMBOANGA CITY: Government troops killed two Abu Sayyaf gunmen in a clash in Tawi- Tawi, where security forces had rescued four kidnapped Indonesian fishermen, officials said on Wednesday.
Army Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said the kidnap-for-ransom gunmen were among those who guarded the Indonesian hostages.
The two terrorists were killed on Tuesday afternoon on Kalupag Island off Languyan.
“Based on the [military] report, the troops of JTF (Joint Task Force) Tawi-Tawi received information of the enemy sightings on Kalupag Island, so a pursuit operation, headed by Col. Nestor Narag Jr., deputy commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade, was immediately conducted,” according to Vinluan.
He identified the slain terrorists only from their aliases Darus and Long.
Vinluan said troops also recovered an M16 automatic rifle from one of the dead men.
The incident came four days after soldiers killed Abu Sayyaf leader Apo Mike whose real name was Majan Sahidjuan and two other gunmen.
Sahidjuan was among those behind a spate of border kidnapping and hijacking of Malaysian and Indonesian trawlers off Sabah and Tawi-Tawi.
The four rescued Indonesians were among five fishermen kidnapped by eight Abu Sayyaf gunmen off Tambisan waters in Lahad Datu town in Sabah near the Philippine border in January 2020.
The fishermen were rescued after their boat capsized off Tawi-Tawi province while fleeing from a military operation in nearby Sulu province.
The Abu Sayyaf has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.