The exact number of deaths resulting from the clashes has not been verified, reports GMA News, the website of a Philippine radio and television station. There are unconfirmed reports that, in addition to three Philippine Army soldiers, six Abu Sayyaf militants have also been killed, but this has not been confirmed.
A marine officer said at least two militants were hit by gunfire, and one of them might have been Abu Sayyaf commander Albader Parad. The marines could not approach to confirm if Parad was wounded or killed because of sporadic rebel fire, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The military was still trying to confirm if Parad was hit, [military spokesman] Pangilinan said.
U.S. and Philippine officials have offered a reward for the capture or killing of Parad, a young militant who has gained notoriety for alleged involvement in past kidnappings and beheadings.
Pangilinan told reporters that the fighting near Indanan town of Jolo was not an attempt to rescue the hostages.
He said the fighting started when the kidnappers tried to break out of the military cordon around the area.
"There is no word on the hostages. But there was no sighting of them, so they might be away from the scene of the fighting," Pangilinan said.