Security forces clashed with gunmen believed to be affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Patikul (Sulu province) on Monday, September 28, during military operations in the area. An Indonesian fisherman, who had been taken hostage by the group near Lahad Datu (Malaysia) in January, was killed in the firefight, but it is unclear whether the hostage was executed by the militants or killed in the crossfire. The deceased was among five fishermen who were abducted by ASG and handed to a group acting as intermediaries; however, they demanded extra payment for the hostages' release. The status of the remaining four hostages is unclear.
Further operations are to be expected in the area over the near term.
Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated jihadist militant group primarily operating in the southern Philippines. It has previously been involved in kidnap for ransom, especially in southwestern Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago.
Those in Sulu province are advised to monitor developments, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
Some Western governments advise their citizens against all travel to central and western Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to terrorist activity and regular clashes between the military and insurgent groups.
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