Philippine troops battle militants in south, at least 9 dead
MANILA: Officials say Philippine troops have clashed with about 100 Abu Sayyaf gunmen suspected of plotting attacks on New Year's Eve, leaving eight militants and one soldier dead.
Regional military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan said the fighting was still continuing late Wednesday in a hinterland village off Patikul town in Sulu province. He said at least one soldier and seven militants were wounded.
Tan said the militants were believed to be led by Abu Sayyaf commander Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, who has been blamed for several kidnappings, including of foreign tourists.
A police report, citing intelligence information, said the militants were planning to carry out bombings in downtown Jolo town and attack police and military detachments on New Year's Eve.