GOVERNMENT forces have killed a suspected Abu Sayyaf bandit in a clash in the hinterlands of Sulu, a top military official said Sunday.

Second Marine Brigade commander Brigadier General Martin Pinto said the clash ensued around 1:45 p.m. Friday in Barangay Kabuntakas, Patikul, Sulu when the troops chanced upon a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits while scouring an uninhabited area in search for kidnap victims.

"Government troops together with the PNP (Philippine National Police) and LGU (local government unit) are continuously exerting all efforts to intensify the conduct of law enforcement operations to track down these lawless elements and further expedite the release of remaining kidnapped victims," Pinto said.

The Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf bandits are still holding captives several people, including two Zamboangueños. The rest of the captives are believed to be foreigners.

The two Zamboangueños were seized by the bandits last June 4 while working on a government water system project in Sulu.

Pinto said the bandits fled to different directions on Friday, leaving behind a companion who was killed during the firefight.

The body of the slain bandit was turned over to the village officials for proper identification.

An M-16 Armalite rifle with ammunition was recovered in his possession, Pinto added.