Two Soldiers Killed, Eight Wounded in Clash with Muslim Extremists
ZAMBOANGA, Philippines (AP) _ Muslim extremists clashed with government troops today in the southern Philippines, killing at least two soldiers and wounding eight, the military said.
Lt. Gen. Orlando Soriano, chief of the military’s Southern Command, said the clash took place in a mountain stronghold of the fundamentalist Abu Sayyaf Group on Basilan Island, about 550 miles south of Manila.
The military operation was apparently intended to keep the group off balance during the visit this week of Pope John Paul II.
The Abu Sayyaf group has claimed responsibility for several bombings and kidnappings in the southern Philippines, including attacks targeting Roman Catholics. The military had feared the group might try to kill or kidnap a priest to embarrass the government during the pope’s visit.
John Paul arrived in Manila on Thursday for a five-day visit.
Soriano said troops were still fighting with members of the fundamentalist group.
``We have cornered them and the battle is still raging,″ he said. ``There is no stopping to the operations now. We will get them all.″