Three members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and a soldier were killed on Thursday after government troops raided a suspected bomb-making factory of the bandit group in Basilan, military reports said.
Navy Captain Roy Vincent Trinidad, Joint Task Group Zambasulta chief, said combined troops from the 3rd Scout Ranger Battalion encountered some 30 Abu Sayyaf men at around 8:25 a.m. at Sitio Project, Barangay Tuburan Proper in the town of Hadji Mohammad Ajul.
A four-hour gunfight ensued resulting to the death of two bandits and one Army Ranger. Seven soldiers and three ASG members were also injured in the encounter.
Trinidad said the rebels, led by Ustadz Abbas Alam and an unidentified Malaysian militant, fled toward the jungle to elude government troops.
Recovered from the site were assembled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) made from LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) tanks, paint tins, and pipe bombs.
Two Shahada flags that are similar to the ones used by extremist group ISIS were also recovered.
Pursuit operations are still ongoing.