MANILA: Eleven people were killed in the southern Philippines early Saturday as troops clashed with a militant group blamed for the country's deadliest terror attacks, the military said.
The fighting left seven Filipino marines dead and nine others wounded on the island of Jolo, said Colonel Jose Cenabre, a local military commander.
Four members of the Abu Sayyaf group were also killed in the firefight, Cenabre, the commander of a marine brigade in the area, said in a report.
A marine reconnaissance team ran into an Abu Sayyaf unit near the town of Patikul as government forces tracked members of the militant group who were suspected over a recent kidnapping in the area, he added.
Founded using seed money from Al-Qaeda in the 1990s, the Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the worst terror attacks in the country, including the firebombing of a ferry in Manila Bay and kidnappings of foreign tourists.
The group is on the US government's list of so-called foreign terrorist organisations.
About 600 US troops have been rotating through the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops in hunting the Abu Sayyaf, who enjoy local support at their bases in some of the poorest areas of the Philippines. (AFP)