MANILA, Feb. 25 (Xinhua) -- Philippine troops clashed with Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern part of the country in the past two days, killing two militants in two separate fightings.
The first fighting broke out around 5:30 p.m. local time Monday in Basilan's Sampinit Complex in Masola, a forested village in Isabela City in the island province of Basilan, while troops were conducting "security operations" in the area, an army spokesman said.
The militants fled after the firefight that lasted roughly 15 minutes, said Col. Gerry Besana, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command in the southern Philippines.
"The Abu Sayyaf bandits withdrew leaving behind their fatality. An M14 rifle was also recovered by the government troops at the encounter site," Besana said. He said troops are still clearing the encounter site while others are pursuing the fleeing bandits.
Besana said troops also clashed with some 15 Abu Sayyaf terrorists before midnight on Sunday in the mangrove area of Simisa island in Banguingui - Tongkil in Sulu province, killing an Abu Sayyaf fighter.
Clashes between the troops and the Abu Sayyaf have intensified after the Jan. 27 twin bombings that hit a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu province that killed 23 and injured more than 100.
Abu Sayyaf gained notice in the southern Philippines in the early 1990s, with demands for an Islamic state. It acquired a worldwide notoriety with a series of kidnappings and beheadings in the southern Philippine region.