ZAMBOANGA, Philippines – Three Abu Sayyaf rebels and two soldiers were killed Friday (April 11th) in a day-long gunfight on Basilan, AFP reported.
The fighting against a band of about 20 fighters began as part of an operation to capture Abu Sayyaf commander Puruji Indama, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said in a statement, adding that 29 soldiers were wounded.
Basilan town official Alton Angeles said he saw two helicopter gunships heading to the scene of the fighting but the military would not confirm this.
Indama, who has a bounty of 3.3 million pesos ($74,300) on his head, is blamed for holding foreigners for ransom in the southern Philippines and is notorious for beheading and mutilating victims.
Zagala said the Basilan operation was not linked to the kidnapping of a Chinese tourist and a Filipina worker from a Malaysian dive resort April 2nd.