The Dallas Morning News

9 die as soldiers, rebels fight

Militants known for viciousnes­s spotted near tourist island

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MANILA, Philippine­s — Philippine soldiers clashed Tuesday with a militant group known for beheading foreign hostages, leaving five rebels and four members of the security forces dead at a popular tourist destinatio­n in the central Philippine­s, the police and military said.

Soldiers and the provincial police clashed with rebels on the island of Bohol, about 400 miles south of Manila, after spotting 10 armed members of Abu Sayyaf on three boats, the military said.

The firefight came a day after the U.S. and Australian embassies warned their citizens against traveling to areas in the central Philippine region of Visayas, particular­ly the islands of Cebu and Bohol. They said they had received “unsubstant­iated yet credible informatio­n that terrorist groups may attempt to conduct kidnapping.”

Col. Edgard Arevalo, a spokesman for the armed forces, said the troops cornered the militants in an isolated section of the coastal town of Inabanga, prompting the clashes.

Numbering around 400, Abu Sayyaf is known for abducting foreign and local tourists for ransoms.

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