Philippine security forces killed two suspected kidnappers in clashes early Monday in the troubled southern Philippine island of Basilan, police said.
The fighting broke out after government soldiers searching for kidnapped victims encountered an undetermined number of Abu Sayyaf militants in the jungles of Akbar township, said regional police spokesperson Superintendent Danilo Bacas.
"The bodies of slain kidnappers were recovered along with assorted rifles, ammunition and rifle grenades left behind by their comrades," Bacas said.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen are allegedly holding nine-year-old boy Chester Gruta, who was kidnapped in Lamitan City in Basilan Island, three state teachers, an employee of lending company, Leah Patris, and three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross they kidnapped early this month in the Island of Sulu.
Patris' companion, Ahmad Ilang, has been rescued by Philippine Marines recently, Xinhua reported.
Gunmen seized Llang, Patris and their fellow employee Nasra Mudjain when they were on the way back to their office. Mudjain managed to escape and reported the incident to the police.
A Filipino-Chinese trader in Jolo, Sulu was also recovered by police while a midwife seized in Basilan also escaped from the hands of his captors in Basilan.
In December last year, Abu Sayyaf armed men kidnapped a young Chinese store assistant in Jolo city but there is no development on the rescue operation since then.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen claimed that they are holding the three international aid workers and is now open to negotiate with Vice President Noli de Castro as head of the government emissary.
The Abu Sayyaf is a rebel group with some 380 members blamed for a series of kidnappings and terror attacks in the Southeast Asian country, including the bombing of a ferry near Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.