MANILA, Philippines (Updated 4:34 pm) – Three soldiers and a cop were killed in a joint operation against suspected Abu Sayyaf members in Inabanga, Bohol on Tuesday.
In a statement released by Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command and Philippine National Police Regional Office 7, said that five members of the rebel group were also killed in the firefight that broke out at 5:20 a.m.
The government forces recovered high-powered firearms (three M16s and an M14) from the gunmen who took over three houses in the municipality of Inabanga.
The group came to the Visayas on three pump boats, according to reports.
Gen. Eduardo Año, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, said in an earlier report of ANC that Air Force, Navy personnel also helped.
The authorities, meanwhile, withheld the identities of the four government troops that were killed.
“Four of our brave troops made the supreme sacrifice of giving their lives during the course of the operation. Their heroism will forever be engraved in the hearts of our people,” the statement read.
The United States Embassy on Sunday and the Australian Embassy on Monday warned their citizens of a possible kidnapping threat in Central Visayas, where Bohol is located. Both embassies cited "unsubstantiated yet credible" that terrorist groups would attempt kidnappings in the region, which is a popular destination for tourists.