5 killed as MNLF, Abu Sayyaf clash in Sulu

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — After a day of relative silence, fighting again broke out in Sulu early Friday morning — but it was between the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), leaving five combatants dead.

Military officials said the bandits attacked a temporary base in the town of Kalingalan Caluang, killing four MNLF fighters. One bandit was also killed.

The MNLF has been helping the military in operations against the ASG in support of the government's peace efforts in Mindanao, a brigade official said.

Related: Duterte appeals to Abu Sayyaf: Do not mutilate bodies

Armed Forces spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said 400-500 bandits remained, with 2/3 of them armed.

Regarding those affected by the skirmishes, more than 500 families  in Patikul have received relief goods from the provincial government.

But some 1,500 more families in Patikul, Maimbong, and Talipao had yet to get aid.

Sulu Gov. Totoh Tan said distribution of relief goods was ongoing.

Tan also appealed to residents to help crush the bandit group — by not getting orders from them and informing the authorities if they had information about the lawless elements.

Meanwhile, amid the intensified military operations against the ASG, three speedboats with expired registration and permits were intercepted last Monday by the military near Maimbung Bay.

Troops of the Joint Task Force Sulu were patrolling the coastal waters to prevent the Abu Sayyaf from escaping or getting reinforcement when they encountered the unregistered vessels.

CNN Philippines' Makoi Popioco contributed to this report.