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February 04, 2013

22 Killed in Clashes between Philippine Rebels and al-Qaida-linked group

At least 22 people have been killed in the southern Philippines, in clashes between a Muslim rebel group and al-Qaida-linked militants holding a Jordanian reporter hostage.

Police said Monday that the Moro National Liberation Front attacked jungle bases of the Abu Sayyaf group on Jolo island. They said 14 Abu Sayyaf militants were killed, along with eight rebels.

The MNLF has an autonomy deal with the government. The group said it was trying to rescue the Jordanian to help authorities clean up the image of Sulu Province, where Abu Sayyaf has carried out a series of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings.

Jordanian Baker Atyani -- a reporter for the Al Arabiya network -- was still reported to be in Abu Sayyaf's hands.

He was kidnapped last June along with two Philippine crew members. The two Filipinos were freed Saturday after an unspecified ransom was reportedly paid.



Abu Sayyaf often kidnaps foreigners for ransom in the area. The group is also thought to be holding an Australian, two European bird watchers and a Japanese national.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996, but some of its members continue to fight for autonomy for the southern region of Mindanao.