Troops killed a suspected Egyptian would-be suicide bomber and two local Abu Sayyaf militants in what military officials said was a setback that would make it harder for gunmen linked to the Islamic State group to stage suicide attacks.
Army troops gunned down the three militants in a 10-minute firefight Friday night near a hinterland village off mountainous Patikul town in southern Sulu province.
They also recovered three assault rifles and bandoliers of ammunition, army brigade commander Col Benjamin Batara Jr said.
Military officials did not indicate how the three were tracked down but military chief Gen Cirilito Sobejana suggested that troops were helped by intelligence provided by villagers.
“The support of the public in our peace and security operations is much, much needed, ” Sobejana said.
The Egyptian, who was identified by the military only as Yusop, was the son of an Egyptian militant, Siti Aisyah, who died when she detonated a bomb and was shot by troops two years ago at the gate of an army detachment in Sulu’s Indanan town.
His Egyptian stepfather was killed in a gunbattle with troops at a military checkpoint in Indanan, also in 2019, the military said.
“This is one less suicide bomber, ” army Maj-Gen William Gonzales said. “Without them, the possibility of another attack is slimmer.”
Gonzales said without elaborating that the killing of the Egyptian would cut off foreign financial support to the Abu Sayyaf.
The small but violent group has long been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines for ransom kidnappings, beheadings of hostages and deadly bombing attacks.
Aside from Yusop, troops also killed suspected bomb maker Abu Khattab Jundullah and another still-unidentified militant. — AP