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Military, Islamists Clash in Philippines, 15 Dead

Patikul, Philippines
Patikul, Philippines
Philippine officials say at least 15 people have been killed during fighting between government troops and Islamist militants in a remote southern region.

The fighting began Tuesday and continued into early Wednesday in the town of Patikul on the island province of Sulu, a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants.

The military says the fighting broke out when Abu Sayyaf fighters attempted to retake a jungle camp captured by government troops Monday.

Officials say the Islamist advance was successfully driven back, although at least one soldier was among those killed in the clashes.

The Islamist group is thought to have ties to al-Qaida fighters and has been blamed for a series of attacks and kidnappings in the Philippines.

Hostages are sometimes kept in the jungle camps such as the one seized Monday. None were reported to be found, however.

The group is one of many small Islamist groups in the southern Philippines opposed to a peace deal between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.