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At least 12 Philippine Troops Dead in Shootout


Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, Philippines, Sept. 5 2011.

Authorities in the southern Philippines say at least 12 soldiers are dead and 10 more missing after a firefight with hundreds of fighters from the region's largest Muslim rebel group.

An army spokesman on flashpoint Basilan island told reporters the fighting erupted at dawn Tuesday, as soldiers investigated reports of rebel incursions and kidnappings by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the island's southeast. He said sporadic fighting continued for most of the day.

A MILF spokesman initially said three of its fighters were killed, but government authorities later said at least six rebels were killed.

Peace talks between Manila and the rebel group hit a snag early last month, after MILF said government and rebel draft peace proposals offered during negotiations in Malaysia were so far apart that there was no point in restarting the talks.

The talks are aimed at ending a revolt that began in the 1970s and has claimed at least 150,000 lives. All previous attempts at peace talks have ended in failure.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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