Philippine military investigates a bomb blast in Mindanao in the southern Philippines in January (Photo: AFP/VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) – Four government soldiers and four Maute group militants have been killed in a clash in the southern Philippines, the Philippine military said on March 15.

West Mindanao Command spokesperson Gerry Besana said that the clash broke out around 5 pm local time on March 14 in a town in Lanao del Sur province.

The gunfight ensued for an hour and 30 minutes, Besana said, adding that troops recovered a number of weapons. In addition, two other soldiers were injured.

The clash came only three days after army troops also clashed with Maute fighters in Pagawayan town, also in Lanao del Sur, leaving two Maute fighters and two soldiers dead, and a soldier wounded.

Head of the 103rd Infantry Brigade Romeo Brawner said that Abu Dar, the elusive leader of the Maute terror group, is believed to be among the fighters killed in the March 14 clash.

The Maute group was responsible for multiple attacks throughout the Philippines. The group, with the help of the Abu Sayyaf militants, attacked Marawi city in the southern Philippines in May 2017.

The fight dragged on for five months, leaving more than 1,200 dead. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law in the entire Mindanao a few hours after the May 2017 attack.

The Philippine congress has granted President Duterte's three requests for martial law extension to quell the rebellion in the southern region. Martial law remains in the region until December 31, 2019. -VNA