Philippine regional military spokesman, Maj. Filemon Tan, confirmed on Friday said eleven Islamist militants were killed in a gun battle with government troops in southern Philippines.
Tan said in Manila that 17 soldiers were also injured in the clash in Patikul town on Jolo Island, where the militants beheaded a Filipino hostage two days ago.
He said that the troops were on patrol when they encountered a group of about 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.
Tan said those killed included a junior leader who was allegedly involved in the kidnapping of two Canadians, a Norwegian and a Filipino on the southern resort island of Samal in September.
“The two Canadians, John Ridsdel and Robert Hall, were executed in April and June, respectively, after a ransom was not paid, while the Filipino was freed in June.
“The rebels are still holding captive, a Norwegian, Kjartan Sekkingstad, five Malaysians, eight Indonesians, a Dutch and several Filipinos,’’ he said.
Tan said that on Wednesday, Abu Sayyaf beheaded 18-year-old Patrick Almodavar after his family failed to pay a 1-million-peso ransom.
He said that the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte, had directed the military to crush Abu Sayyaf and also warned that the group could be a source of recruitment for the Islamic State extremist group.
Tan quoted the president as saying that he was informed that a 50-million-peso ransom had been paid for Sekkingstand, but that Abu Sayyaf kept on postponing his release.
“My order to the police and armed forces against enemies of the state is to seek them out and destroy them, period,’’ he said.