By Ayee Macaraig
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces said Wednesday it was on the trail of five Islamic militants who are on the run after landing on a tourist island, triggering clashes with security forces that claimed 10 lives.
The Armed Forces chief said six Abu Sayyaf gunmen had been killed, among a group of 11 that arrived in Bohol by boat from their southern base of Jolo island, about 500 kilometers away.
The government lost three soldiers and a policeman in the battle that broke out Tuesday in a rural area of Bohol—one of the country's top tourism draws.
Local officials said the armed men sailed upriver Monday through the island, raising fears they were there to kidnap foreign visitors traveling for the Easter holidays.
The Abu Sayyaf, made up of several hundred Filipino Muslim militants, is notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and deadly bombings. Its leaders have also pledged allegiance to Islamic State gunmen in Iraq and Syria.
Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Eduardo Año said the five remaining fighters had fled after an overnight siege near a remote village. Officials said helicopter gunships were used to bomb the militants.
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