Government troopers clashed with suspected members of the Abu Sayyaff Group (ASG) in the mountain village of Napo, Inabanga town, Bohol.
Five of the casualties are from the ASG while four others were members of the military and police forces in the shootout on Tuesday, April 11.
In a statement, Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, head of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) and Lieutenant General Oscar Lactao, commander of the Central Command, said the government troops were able to retrieve three M-16 rifles and one M-4 carbine from the bandits.
Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año also reported that the troop encountered "heavily-armed lawless elements" in the same location. Residents also testified that 10 armed men got off three boats at the Inabanga river on Monday night.
PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa said that the armed group is most likely Abu Sayyaff.
“At this moment our combined forces are conducting clearing operations to resolve this incident in the soonest possible time,” Mayor Josephine Jumamoy said in an interview with radio station dyAB in Cebu City. Over 200 families have already evacuated, mostly from Barangays Napo and Ylaya to prevent them from getting involved in the gun battle, she added.
In a joint PNP-AFP statement, local government leaders and executives and the government security team who put their lives at stake to defend the town were praised. Fallen members of the team were also commended.
“On behalf of the combined forces of the AFP and the PNP in the Visayas Region, we want to congratulate our people in Bohol under the able leadership of Governor Edgar Chatto, and all local chief executives down to the municipal and barangay levels, who made a brave stand to defend themselves against the threat of terrorism. The government security forces simply reinforced the vigilance of the Boholanos who organized themselves into a strong force to keep the province safe from any threat group,” said in the joint statement.
“Their heroism will forever be engraved in the hearts of our people. Today’s incident showcases how strong we can be if all stakeholders, the law enforcers, the civilian government and the community, act together,” the statement added.
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