MANILA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Three suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group were killed and five government soldiers wounded in clashes in remote Sulu Province in the southern Philippines on Saturday morning, a military spokesman said.
Major Arvin Encinas of the military's Western Mindanao Command said a hour-long fighting broke out around 10:44 a.m. local time on Saturday in Danag, a village in Patikul town in Sulu Province.
Encinas said soldiers recovered one of the bodies of the three slain bandits, along with a high-powered firearm at the initial clash site.
Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Western Mindanao Command based in Zamboanga City, vowed to sustain the military offensive to crush the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
Abu Sayyaf Group is considered the smallest but the most violent of the extremist groups in the southern Philippines. The group, which has an estimated 400 fighters, is active in the impoverished island provinces of Sulu and Basilan.
The group is responsible for the series of kidnappings, deadly bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion in the Mindanao region.
The group, which has been terrorizing the Philippine southern region since the 1990s, preys on foreign tourists, businessmen and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia and hide them in Philippine jungles or remote islands. Enditem