By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines -- Daesh-linked militants ambushed and killed two army soldiers on Sunday morning in the latest attack in a predominantly Muslim province in the southern Philippines.
Major Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces' Western Mindanao Command, said the incident took place around 10.25 a.m. (0325GMT) in Barangay Tumahubong in the Basilan municipality of Sumisip.
He said the soldiers were returning to their headquarters from buying supplies on a motorbike when three armed men on board another bike fired at them, killing them instantly.
He said the perpetrators immediately fled and troops later recovered the bodies.
"Pursuit operation against the Abu Sayyaf are still on-going," said Tan.
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department's counter-terrorism bureau again listed the Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) as one of 59 "foreign terrorist organizations".
In its report for 2015, the department called the militant group -- which has sworn loyalty to Daesh -- the "most violent" terrorist group operating in the Philippines.
"The ASG engages in kidnapping for ransom, bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations and extortion," it noted.
"In 2014, the ASG remained active, conducting numerous attacks on civilian and government targets in the southern Philippines."
The U.S. estimates that the Abu Sayyaf has 400 members to date, some of whom also operate in Malaysia.