Dozens killed in Basilan gun battle

basilan-philippines-gun-battle

Deadly clashes between al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants and government troops have claimed the lives of at least 21 rebels and 23 soldiers in Basilan province, southern Philippines.

Two of the fatalities were officers, said military information chief Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr.

The fighting erupted after the security forces stormed the insurgents’ camp in Silangkom village Wednesday and continued through Thursday.

The Abu Sayyaf used the site to temporarily house kidnapping victims and make explosives, according to local reports. High-power firearms, explosives and documents were seized in the raids.

The militants are suspected in numerous terror attacks in Basilan and nearby cities in Mindanao. Since 2002, a few hundred of U.S. non-combatant troops have been deployed in the country to aid Filipino counterparts in training and gathering intelligence reports.