15 killed in military-Abu Sayyaf clashes

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MANILA -- Heavy clashes have broken out between Philippine troops and Muslim militants trying to regain control of a captured camp in Sulu province, leaving 14 Abu Sayyaf rebels and one marine dead, officials said Wednesday.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the fighting, which began late Tuesday, continued until early Wednesday morning with the militants attempting to regain control of an Abu Sayyaf training and storage camp in Patikul town that was captured by government troops.

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Marine spokesman Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, citing intelligence reports, said the clashes left 14 rebels dead, while one marine was killed and 19 were wounded.

Zagala said the troops are securing the rebel camp they captured Monday.

He added that militants from the group of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullan Sahiron are expected to launch more attacks and the military will continue to use mortars, howitzers, and attack helicopters to protect its troops there.

The Abu Sayyaf had links to international militant networks, including al-Qaida, but a US-backed Philippine military crackdown has weakened it considerably in recent years. The group, which is on the US list of terror groups, has about 300 fighters and is now much more focused on ransom kidnappings than global jihad. (AP)

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