MANILA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Two Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed and a terrorist camp was overran in two skirmishes with Marine forces in southern Philippine island province of Sulu, a military spokesman said on Thursday.
Quoting belated reports from the military's Joint Task Force Comet, Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said four Marine soldiers were also wounded in Tuesday's fighting in Talipao town, Sulu province.
The fighting was triggered by the recent harassments of development projects in the province by the Abu Sayyaf and rogue Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) elements, prompting the civilians to report their movement to the military, Arevalo said.
"Helpless civilians, tired of the atrocities of the lawless groups, reported to the Marines that Malik and his cohorts have been impairing humanitarian missions in Talipao and Maimbung," said Arevalo.
He was referring to the MNLF leader Habier Malik, who is said to be in alliance with Abu Sayyaf leader Yasser Igasan, in the waging the atrocities.
The first clash occurred at Tuesday morning when forces from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 intercepted the evading Abu Sayyaf and MNLF rebels, Arevalo said. The second clash occurred in the afternoon, he added.
The troops were able to seize a command and control facility and a satellite camp of the two groups, and recovered were the two bodies of Abu Sayyaf bandits and two rifles and assorted ammunition, Arevalo said.
"As long as the group of Malik and Igasan roams in Southern Talipao, progress in the area will never set in," said Col. Romeo Tanalgo, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade.
"The quest for development for the people of Sulu has necessitated the conduct of these surgical, intelligence-driven military operations against these lawless elements," added Tanalgo.
Abu Sayyaf was founded in the 1990s and had perpetrated a number of high-profile attacks, including kidnapping and bombing. The Philippine military estimates the Abu Sayyaf, which has links with external terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, has about 400 members currently.