MANILA (Reuters) - A leader of the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf group has been killed in a shootout with Philippine soldiers on the island of Bohol, where the military is hunting down insurgents planning to kidnap tourists, the military and officials said on Saturday.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said “one lawless element” was killed in the clash but he could not give the man’s identity.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto identified him as Abu Sayyaf leader Joselito Melloria, who was among the militants involved in a kidnapping plot on the island.
The military said operations were continuing on Bohol where troops last week killed six Abu Sayyaf bandits in a clash, including their leader, who was directly involved in the kidnap and killing of Canadian and German nationals.
Abu Sayyaf, which has its roots in separatism, makes money from ransoms and piracy and has invested that in modern weapons and boats. Indonesian, Malaysian and Vietnamese vessels in the region are frequently targeted there and their crews abducted.
Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Louise Ireland
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