Vol. 5 Num 1138 Sat. August 11, 2007  
Front Page

Clashes with rebels kill 52 in Philippines

Clashes between Philippine troops and suspected al-Qaeda-linked militants have killed at least 52 people on volatile southern Jolo island, the military said yesterday.

The death toll included 25 soldiers and 27 militants, based on updated field reports, according to Maj Eugene Batara, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command.

The military's initial report said 19 soldiers and one militant were killed.

The fighting erupted Thursday when suspected Abu Sayyaf extremists ambushed a truck carrying troops headed to market, then fought a gunbattle with soldiers in pursuit,

Another 10 soldiers and an undetermined number of militants were hurt, Batara said. He said the militant death toll was based on confirmed intelligence reports, but that the rebels carted away their dead and wounded. There were no reports of new clashes Friday.

The insurgents killed nine soldiers before fleeing the second major attack on government troops in recent weeks, said Maj. Eugene Batara, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command.

Troops from the same unit pursuing the militants came upon a bigger insurgent group, sparking a firefight that left 10 soldiers dead and 10 wounded, said Army Col Antonio Supnet.