Friday, 27 July 2012 11:45
At least 11 people were killed in fresh and fierce clashes Thursday between army soldiers and suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in the island province of Basilan.
Officials said the fighting erupted at around 7.30 a.m. in the hinterland village of Cabengbeng in the town of Sumisip, where 5 soldiers were also wounded.
Army Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command, said the latest fighting in Sumisip was the second clash in the area since Wednesday between army rangers and militants.
He said seven of their soldiers were killed, and four on the Abu Sayyaf side.
"We will not stop our operation against the Abu Sayyaf to bring peace in Basilan,” he said.
Helicopter gunships were sent to the province to provide air cover to ground troops pursuing the Abu Sayyaf group, according to Cabangbang.
The firefight between the two sides was still ongoing, as of posting.
The province was also the site of another blast last July that was allegedly perpetrated by the Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group.
At least six people were killed when the explosion hit a rubber plantation in Maluso town.
Earlier, soldiers fought with Abu Sayyaf gunmen for about 10 minutes and the clash stopped after the militants, numbering about 20, broke into smaller groups and fled to the hinterlands.
By Hader Glang
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