An army junior officer and a soldier were killed in clashes in the southern Philippines that also caused the deaths of four Filipino militants linked to the Islamic State (IS), military officials said Friday.
Second Lt. Junibert Zonio was among troops sent to the remote town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao province that encountered heavy fire from Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) Thursday, officials said.
Zonio, who was struck in the jaw by a bullet, died instantly, while another soldier also died, army spokesman Capt. Arvin John Encinas said.
Four BIFF militants – Ali Tudon, Alamid Yusop, Katod Bensar and one who was not identified – were killed and their bodies recovered, he said, adding that radio intercepts indicated additional enemy fighters could have been killed. Continuing air and artillery assaults in the nearby towns of Datu Paglas and Mamasapano are believed to have killed several BIFF fighters, based on military radio reports.
“The number of militants dead was based on two-way radio conversations we intercepted from factions of the terror group and from civilians on the ground,” Encinas said. “Our clearing operation is still on going. There will be no let up against these terrorists.”
Along with the two killed, 15 soldiers have been wounded in the assault that began Sunday.
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Cotabato, Philippines. Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato contributed to this report.
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