World Bulletin / News Desk
Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., Western Mindanao Command spokesman, said in a statement that troops in the island province of Basilan -- a known stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf -- were conducting focused operations against the group when fight broke out in the morning in Sumisip town.
"A notorious follower of Abu Sayyaf top leader Furuji Indama was killed in the intensified operations launched by the military in Basilan," Tan said, adding that an R4 assault rifle was also recovered.
After the Abu Sayyaf fighters withdrew, government troops launched pursuit efforts.
"All other troops were alerted and continue to conduct full inspection to all vehicles going to and from the vicinity," said Tan. "Pursuit operations are ongoing as of this press time."
Indama has a multi-million bounty on his head and has been blamed for murder, kidnapping, deadly bomb attacks and the beheading of marines.
On Tuesday, the Armed Forces of the Philippines updated its count of hostages believed to be held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf to 27.
The majority of the captives are sailors and fishermen from Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Since 1991, the Abu Sayyaf -- armed with mostly improvised explosive devices, mortars and automatic rifles -- has carried out bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and extortion in a self-determined fight for an independent province in the Philippines.
The group is notorious for beheading victims after ransoms have failed to be paid for their release,
It is one of two militant groups in the south to have pledged allegiance to ISIL, prompting fears during the stalling of a peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebel group that it could make inroads in a region torn by decades of armed conflict.