Military officials say 20 Muslim rebels and seven soldiers have been killed in clashes in the southern Philippines.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce said Saturday that soldiers clashed with about 80 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas Friday near the town of Mamasapano on the island of Mindanao.

Ponce said that clearing operations are ongoing, adding that five soldiers had been wounded.

The military said that the rebels were believed to be under the command of Ameril Umbra Kato, one of the commanders who led a bloody rampage that killed dozens of civilians in several communities following the cancellation of a preliminary peace deal last year.

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