Nine Abu Sayyaf killed in clash with Philippines troops

Philippines troops killed nine suspected Abu Sayyaf militants during a firefight on a remote southern island, according to media reports.

The clash with a group of at least 120 militants broke out early in the morning on Thursday in the town of Patikul in the Sulu province and lasted the whole day, Xinhua news agency reported.

Nineteen Abu Sayyaf fighters were wounded in the firefight.

“The militants broke into smaller groups after the initial fighting in an attempt to escape from the pursuing troops,” Xinhua quoted Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, the commander of the Joint Task Force Sulu, as saying.

“The support and cooperation of the local community led to the success of the military operation,” Pabayo said.

Philippines government has a separate army division to fight the insurgency in its southern region.

In the early 1990s, Abu Sayyaf split from the Moro National Liberation Front. The group’s first major attack was in 1991 when two U.S. naitonals were killed in a grenade attack.

Last year, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had offered peace to Abu Sayyaf which is alleged to have links to Daesh.