PHILIPPINE security forces say a highly-wanted Abu Sayyaf leader was among those killed in a skirmish with government troops in the resort Island of Bohol on Tuesday.
Head of the Central Visayas police office’s intelligence division Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal on Wednesday confirmed the death of Abu Sayyaf leader Muamar Askali – also known as Abu Rami – ABS-CBN News reported.
— Cebu Daily News (@cebudailynews) April 11, 2017
Cabal, when announcing Rami’s reported death on Twitter, did not provide further details on the matter.
“AFP Central Command confirms rhe (sic) death of Muammar Askali aka Abu Rami in the firefight with the Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga, Bohol,” he tweeted.
AFP Central Command confirms rhe death of Muammar Askali aka Abu Rami in the firefight with the Abu Sayyaf in Inabanga, Bohol
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) April 12, 2017
Earlier reports said Rami was the leader of a sub-group of the Abu Sayyaf militants behind the February beheading of German captive Juergen Gustav Kantner in Barangay Buanza, Sulu.
The clash between government forces and Abu Sayyaf terrorists on Tuesday left at least eight people dead, including three Philippine military personnel.
ABS-CBN News also published a portion of the firefight that was captured on camera by a policeman who was among those who pursued the terrorists.
The video, according to the news site, was uploaded on a Facebook page by a member of the Special Weapons and Tactics unit of the Bohol Provincial Police Office, showing troops exchanging fire with the militants from behind coconut trees.
The gunfight led to the evacuation of hundreds of residents from their homes.
Philippine military said 10 assailants were “well-armed with heavy calibre weapons.”
The attack comes just days after the US Embassy in the Philippines warned its citizens of possible kidnappings by terrorist groups in Central Visayas after it received “unsubstantiated yet credible” information.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered the military to quash the Abu Sayyaf group.
On Thursday during a visit to Jolo, a stronghold of the militant group, Duterte stressed the campaign against Abu Sayyaf should go on at full force.
“We will not let up on the war against the Abu Sayyaf and drugs. They would not honour their word. If they like to kill, then we will go ahead and kill them up to the last man,” he was quoted as saying.
The incident is the first on the tourist island by Abu Sayyaf, who have long engaged in kidnapping for ransom – often targeting foreigners.
The group, also blamed for deadly bombings, has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State movement prompting fears of its spreading influence in Southeast Asia.
Over the last eight months, the militants of the group have beheaded a German national and two Canadians. Netherlands, Indonesian, Filipino and Japanese citizens are among those still being held hostage.