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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jungle battle in Philippines kills 7 marines

Seven Philippine marines were killed and 21 others were wounded Thursday by a rebel group linked to al-Qaeda during an attempted raid of their jungle camp.

The early morning battle was some of the fiercest fighting this year between the Philippine military and Abu Sayyaf militants.

About 30 marines manoeuvred in stormy weather close to the encampment of more than 50 militants in mountainous Patikul township in southern Sulu province, setting off the gunbattle before dawn, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties among the militants, who were led by Radulan Sahiron, a one-armed commander long wanted by U.S. and Philippine authorities for a string of bombings and kidnappings, Cabangbang said.

The marines moved overnight on a mission to capture Sahiron, Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon Hapilon and allied militants belonging to the Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah. The militants were holed up in one jungle area on Jolo Island, Cabangbang said. (more)