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Nine dead in clash between Abu Sayyaf, Philippine security

It was the northernmost appearance of the militant group in the Philippines.

By Ed Adamczyk
Nine dead in clash between Abu Sayyaf, Philippine security
Philippine soldiers keep watch at a military checkpoint. The military and police exchanged gunfire Tuesday with suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf militant group in Bohol, Philippines. Four soldiers, one police officer and five militants were killed, an army announcement said. Photo by Ben Hajan/EPA

April 11 (UPI) -- A clash on the Philippines' resort island of Bohol on Tuesday left three soldiers, one police officer and five suspected Abu Sayyaf militants dead, the army said.

Bohol and neighboring Cebu province are popular tourist areas, which feature beaches and diving. The shootout may be an indication the Islamic State-aligned terrorist group, notorious for its kidnapping-for-ransom tactics, is moving its actions from southern Philippines to the central part of the country, the Straits Times said Tuesday.

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The attack came several days after the U.S. Embassy in Manila warned U.S. citizens against travel to Behol and Cebu provinces, citing "unsubstantiated yet credible information" of a possible terrorist threat in the region.

The incident began early Tuesday when soldiers and police encountered about a dozen men "well armed with heavy-caliber weapons," armed forces chief Gen. Eduardo Ano said.

Seven hours later, a joint statement from the military chief and local police chief announced victory and confiscation of "a number of high-powered firearms." It was the furthest north that Abu Sayyaf elements have been seen, suggesting that navy patrols in southern Philippines waters are forcing the group to venture farther north from their stronghold in southern Sulu province.

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