ZAMBOANGA CITY – Abu Sayyaf militants ambushed an army soldier and two government militias in Basilan, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region in southern Philippines, officials said Thursday.
Officials did not release the names of the casualties, but said the trio was travelling on two motorcycles in the village of Upper Benembengan in Sumisip town when gunmen attacked them.
The Wednesday ambush occurred while the whole of southern Philippines is under an extended martial rule due to threats of terrorism. The attack occurred at the same time the United States warned its citizens not to travel to the restive region because of persistent threats of terrorism.
The military previously claimed that Basilan is now peaceful following the surrender of dozens of militants over the last two years, but despite the rhetoric, sporadic attacks against security forces and civilians still continue.
Basilan, about 29 nautical south of Zamboanga City, is a major stronghold of Abu Sayyaf being the place where the militant group is founded by its chieftain and Islamic preacher Ustadz Abubakar Abdurajak Janjalani in the 1990s.
Janjalani was eventually killed by a policeman in a firefight on December 1998, but the group continued its terror in the South, embracing the violent campaigns of ISIS in an effort to establish a caliphate on Mindanao. (The Zamboanga Post)
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