MANILA, Philippines — At least 21 people are reportedly killed as extremist Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) clashed in the jungles of Patikul, Sulu on Monday.
According to a MNLF commander, the fight was triggered by the refusal from the Abu Sayyaf to release foreign hostages they already held for months including two European nationals, 1 Japanese, 1 Malaysian and a Jordanian TV journalist. However, two Filipinos were released by the militants who were found by police on Saturday.
Moreover, the said battle in the jungle-clad mountains in Patikul Town, where armed fighters of MNLF encamped to pressure the Abu Sayyaf to end the acts of banditry, claimed the lives of eight Moro rebels and 13 Abu Sayyaf extremists.
According to police chief Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, the battle subsided on Monday after Abu Sayyaf militants split into smaller groups. They were also seen leaving to an adjacent town.
Freyra also noted that the battle could happen again that is why security forces were deployed to prevent spillover even if hostilities have been already contained.
The said incident was the first major bloody war between the two groups who have been coexisted for years. They also have been alleged of joining forces on kidnappings and supporting each other against government troops.
Meanwhile, there are no reports yet regarding the kidnap victims of Abu Sayyaf in the midst of the resumed clashed.