MANILA, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Two Abu Sayyaf militants were killed and two others wounded in clash on Thursday with troops in the southern Philippine coastal Patikul town in Sulu province, the military said.
Gerry Besana, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said a firefight broke out around 11 a.m. in Tanum, a remote village in Patikul town, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf group.
"Troops are presently scouring the encounter site and will pursue the fleeing enemy," said Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the military's Joint Task Force Sulu.
Pabayo added that troops fired from the 105mm Howtizer and 81mm mortars at the Luba Hill of the village, where the Abu Sayyaf members are suspected to have fled.
Troops intensified their offensive against the Abu Sayyaf group after the Jan. 27 twin bombings that ripped through a church in Jolo, Sulu and killed 23 people.
Westmincom commander Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega said the troops are closing in on Abu Sayyaf militants.
"(The troops) are gaining foothold with the sustained conduct of tactical offensives and intelligence operations being launched in the hinterlands of Sulu," Dela Vega said.
Abu Sayyaf gained notice in the southern Philippines in the early 1990s, with demands for an Islamic state. It acquired notoriety with a series of kidnappings and beheadings.