April 12, 2017 - 10:07 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Philippines sent military reinforcements to one of its most famous tourist islands Wednesday, April 12, as a deadly operation to flush out heavily armed Islamic militants entered its second day, AFP reports.
The army said the death toll rose to 10 before dawn as government forces killed a sixth gunman believed to be from the Abu Sayyaf, a notorious southern Philippines-based group which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Local officials said at least 10 armed men sailed upriver Monday to a rural area of Bohol island, one of the country's top tourist draws, raising fears they were there to kidnap foreign visitors travelling for the Easter holidays.
"We continue to bring in fresh troops to be able to assist those that are in the area, replace them if necessary, to allow for a more intensified clearing operation," military spokesman Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla said on CNN.
He did not specify how many security forces had been drafted in but said that they were from the army, navy and air force.
Three soldiers and a policeman have died since the operation began early Tuesday.
Padilla and other police and military officials have said they believe that Abu Sayyaf is responsible for the incursion.
The military spokesman said the goal was to kill or capture by Wednesday the remaining infiltrators and contain the fighting outside the town of Inabanga, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the tourist section of Bohol.
At least 100 residents have fled the area, he added.