Updated 10:54 AM PHT Wed, April 12, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 11) — Police and military clashed with suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the central Philippine island province of Bohol.
Ten people have been killed in the shootout between the bandits and joint military and police forces in the town of Inabanga, authorities said on Wednesday.
Six of those killed were suspected Abu Sayyaf while four others were government troops — one from the Philippine National Police (PNP), and three from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Año in a statement relayed by Army spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, said the Army encountered a group of "heavily-armed lawless elements" in Barangay Napo, Inabanga, Bohol.
Año said residents reported 10 armed men aboard three pump boats disembarked at the Inabanga river on Monday night. The river is one of the area's tourist sites.
Inabanga is 71 kilometers north of the provincial capital of Tagbilaran, and 93 kilometers north of the popular resort island of Panglao.
"Security forces reported that the armed group is well armed with heavy caliber weapons but now cornered in an isolated section of the sitio," he said.
Dela Rosa said the armed men may be members of the Abu Sayyaf because of how they operated: arriving in the area aboard boats.
"Kung NPA 'yan [if it's NPA], by land. So most likely Abu Sayyaf. As of now, suspected pa lang," he said. The New People's Army (NPA) is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The PNP chief also said if they can confirm the armed men are members of the Abu Sayyaf, the bandits' goal is to execute kidnappings in the area.
"Kung ma-confirm na Abu Sayyaf, confirmed na ang purpose nila is mangidnap sa Cebu, sa Bohol then that's it," he said.
[Translation: If we can confirm it is the Abu Sayyaf, their purpose is to carry out kidnappings in Cebu and Bohol.
Año said additional Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel were brought in to contain the firefight.
This comes following a U.S. Embassy warning to its citizens against travel in central Visayas — including Bohol — due to an "unsubstantiated yet credible information" of terror threat in the area.
CNN Philippines' Gerg Cahiles, David Santos, and Lara Tan contributed to this report.