MANILA, Philippines – Philippine troops overran a jungle camp used by al-Qaida-linked militants in recent deadly attacks in a two-day battle that killed one soldier and possibly up to five guerrillas, the military said Friday.
The Abu Sayyaf encampment on southern Basilan Island, where 14 people were killed in a militant attack early this month, yielded homemade explosives and paraphernalia, grenades and mortar rounds, said military spokeswoman Lt. Steffani Cacho.
One soldier was killed and seven wounded when elite army troops attacked the camp on the outskirts of Sumisip township Tuesday and Wednesday, she said. There were unconfirmed reports that five militants died and two were hurt, Cacho said.
In one of the more spectacular attacks, about a dozen Abu Sayyaf gunmen led by notorious commander Puruji Indama sneaked into the provincial capital of Isabela on April 13 disguised as police commandos, authorities said.
The assailants detonated two bombs and fired on troops and civilians before security forces repelled them. Fourteen people were killed.
A small but violent group, the Abu Sayyaf is blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization following two decades of deadly bombings, kidnappings and beheadings. The militants are suspected of having received training and funds from al-Qaida.
At least three other Muslim groups have been fighting for decades for a separate homeland in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation's south. The Abu Sayyaf is estimated to have about 400 fighters despite many battle losses.