Three soldiers killed in Philippines’ restive south

INDANAN, Philippines (AFP) – An attack on a special Philippine army counter-terrorism unit left three soldiers dead and nine others wounded in the southern Philippines yesterday, military spokesmen and witnesses told AFP.

Unknown suspects targetted the unit’s temporary headquarters on the island of Jolo, a stronghold of Islamic State (IS)-linked Abu Sayyaf militants.

“It was a bomb and a firefight,” army spokesman Colonel Ramon Zagala told AFP, adding the attackers’ identities were not immediately known.

An AFP reporter on the scene saw a blood-soaked man slumped on a tricycle on a street also stained with blood in front of the temporary headquarters of the army’s 1,500-member First Brigade Combat team.

The Philippines has renewed its campaign against the militants in Jolo this year after at least one suspected suicide bomber attacked the island’s Roman Catholic cathedral, killing 21 people.

Major Arvin Arcinas, the region’s military spokesman, said three army members were killed in yesterday’s attack, with nine other soldiers were wounded.

He said he could not confirm if there were civilian casualties and could not say what kind of explosives were used.

Jolo and other remote areas of the southern Philippines are home to numerous armed groups including the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnappings and bombings.

The militants have pledged allegiance to the IS.