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15 Dead in Philippines Clash

Filipino troopers secure an area at Talipao town, Sulu province, southern Philippines on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011

Philippine authorities say 13 suspected Muslim militants and two marines were killed Sunday in the southern Philippines, when a little-known rebel group attacked a military outpost on Jolo island.

A military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, said about 50 gunmen attacked the garrison, triggering a two-hour battle near a village in Sulu province. He said 13 of the assailants' bodies were later recovered, and said five marines were wounded.

He tied the pre-dawn attack to a radical organization with ties to the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group.

Abu Sayyaf, long active in the southern Philippines, first appeared in the 1990s and is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and Manila. It is accused of carrying out some of the worst terrorist attacks in recent Philippine history. The group, which uses kidnappings and extortion to raise money, claimed responsibility for the 2004 bombing of a ferry near Manila Bay that killed more than 100 people.

It is currently thought to have fewer than 400 members.