MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Fierce clashes erupted Friday between government troops and Muslim extremists in southern Philippines, leaving at least 14 combatants dead, the military said.
The dead included 10 Abu Sayyaf rebels, although troops recovered only three bodies, said military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan.
Four were killed and nine wounded on the government side, he said.
The fighting began when army units encountered some 150 militants in Patikul township in Sulu province and exchanged fire until the extremists withdrew, Tan said. Soldiers then pounded the rebels' position with artillery fire and put up checkpoints as they pursued the militants.
The Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by the U.S. and the Philippines as a terrorist organization, holds more than a dozen foreign and local hostages.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who took office in June, has ordered troops to destroy the Abu Sayyaf, known for its brutality and ties to foreign militants. He has ruled out the possibility of any peace talks with them as he pursues negotiations with two other larger Muslim insurgent groups.