Philippine troops killed seven Abu Sayyaf militants who the army believed were training with a notorious Malaysian bomb expert in an amphibious pre-dawn raid on Sunday on the island of Siasi.
REUTERS - Philippine troops killed seven Islamic militants, believed to be sheltering a Malaysian bomb expert, in a pre-dawn assault on Sunday, a Marine general said.
A soldier was also wounded during an amphibious assault on a row of fortified stilt houses on the island of Siasi, near the main island of Jolo, Brigadier-General Rustico told reporters as troops continued to scour the area.
"We caught them by surprise when our troops approached the militants' hideout from the sea," Guerrero told reporters, adding that 15 assault rifles and bomb-making materials were seized during the raid.
"We have information that Zulkifli bin Hir, alias Marwan, was hiding with the Abu Sayyaf group on the island, but we are not sure whether he was there during the raid. We're still trying to identify the seven bodies we recovered," Guerrero said, adding two of the dead militants were women.
Philippine security officials say Marwan has been on the U.S. State Department watchlist for a series of bomb attacks in the southern Philippines since 2006. He was believed to have trained Muslim rebels in the south in making crude bombs.
Guerrero said the military was also checking whether Abu Sayyaf commander Abu Benhur was among those killed. He was believed to be planning kidnapping and bombing activities to disrupt the presidential elections in May. The rebels were on a bomb-making course on the island, he added.
Two weeks ago, soldiers killed Albader Parad, a senior Abu Sayyaf leader blamed for kidnapping and extortion activities on nearby Jolo island, trumpeted by the military as a big blow to the Islamic militancy movement in the south.
Parad's group was reponsible for the kidnapping of three members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) inspecting a sanitation project on Jolo in January 2009. Parad was also involved in the 2000 kidnapping of tourists on the eastern Malaysian resort island of Sipadan.