A military spokesman announced the deaths of two suspected Abu Sayyaf militants in a security operation in Sulu province on Monday, April 8. Soldiers clashed with approximately 40 militants around 15:45 (local time) in Patikul during an operation involving indirect fire and airstrikes. According to a military official, two members of Abu Sayyaf were killed in the fighting, including the alleged facilitator of the January 2019 Jolo cathedral bombing. Three soldiers were also wounded in the engagement. Further clashes are likely in the Sulu archipelago in the near term.
A twin bombing at a cathedral in Jolo killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 100 others on January 27. The bombing came shortly after residents in the southern Philippines, including Sulu, voted to create the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), part of the peace process aimed at ending the conflict with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) militants. Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the attack.
Abu Sayyaf is an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated jihadist militant group operating primarily in the southern Philippines. The group's criminal and terrorist activities include kidnappings, bombings, and beheadings in western Mindanao.
Individuals in Sulu, and the southern Philippines more generally, are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate further security operations in the coming weeks and months, and remain vigilant for militant activity.
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