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Two Marines Killed During Fighting in Southern Philippines

Philippine military officials say two marines have been killed and 11 wounded in a gunbattle with Islamic militants in the southern part of the country.

Authorities say fighting erupted Monday in the mountains of the southern island of Jolo, where the marines encountered around 50 members of the outlawed Abu Sayyaf group.

Military officials say the marines believe they inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels, but had no numbers.

The report brings to nine the number of Philippine troops killed since the government began an offensive on Jolo against Abu Sayyaf November 11th.

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for a wave of bombings and high-profile kidnappings. U.S. and Philippine authorities link the group to the al-Qaida terror network and the Southeast Asian terrorist organization, Jemaah Islamiyah.

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