Two soldiers and a 2-year-old girl were killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants in the southern Philippines as the country marked the feast of Eid al-Adha, the military said on Tuesday.

The soldiers were travelling on a motorcycle along a busy road in Talipao town in Sulu province, 1,000 kilometres south of Manila, on Monday when suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group opened fire at them.

The troopers were killed in the ambush, while two girls – a 2-year-old and an 11-year-old – were wounded, said Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr, commander of a provincial anti-terrorism task force.

He added that the 2-year-old died while being treated in hospital, while the 11-year-old was still in critical condition.

“We deeply condemn this very deceitful act of the Abu Sayyaf, who do not in any way represent the Islamic way of living,” said Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, a regional military commander.

“We would like to extend our sympathy to the bereaved families of the victims of by Sayyaf’s inhumane act,

“Rest assured that all sorts of assistance will be provided as our simple way of commiseration,” he added.

Abu Sayyaf is the most violent Muslim group in the Philippines.

It is believed to be allied with the Islamic State terrorist network and has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country as well as high-profile kidnappings.