A Philippine military spokesman says a Muslim militant commander wanted by Washington has escaped an assault by elite Filipino troops on a southern island.
Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said Friday that government troops halted their pursuit for Khair Mundos, his deputy and about 15 fighters after they fled towards local communities on Sacol island off Zamboanga city. Cabangbang says the military wants to avoid civilian casualties.
He says the 30 special operations troops withdrew late Thursday after recovering the militants' food and water supplies.
The mayor of Jolo township farther south meanwhile says the death toll from a bomb blast blamed on militants has risen to four after one of the wounded died overnight.