ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / 29 Sept) - Government soldiers clashed with members of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the southern Filipino island of Jolo, a regional army spokesman said Saturday.
The fighting broke out Friday in the hinterlands of Patikul town, scene of previous clashes between security and Abu Sayyaf forces, said Major Eugenio Batara. "There was fighting alright in Patikul, but we still don't know if there are any Abu Sayyaf casualties. The terrorists had fled the fighting and troops are pursuing them," he told the Mindanao Examiner.
Batara said there were no military casualties. It was the second fighting to break out in Jolo island since the Muslims began their month-long Ramadan fasting.
Jolo is a predominantly Muslim province, about 950 km south of Manila, where troops were tracking down Abu Sayyaf leaders, including their chieftain, Khadaffy Janjalani; and two Jemaah Islamiya militants, Dulmatin and Umar Patek, both wanted by Jakarta and Canberra for the deadly Bali bombings in 2002 that left more than 200 mostly Australian holiday-makers dead.
Australia is to begin a joint anti-terror warfare training with the Philippine military in the restive southern region this year, according to Batara.