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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Fresh fighting in S Philippines
A soldier at a roadblock in Jolo on 4 August
Troops are searching for several key militants
Fighting is continuing on an island in the southern Philippines where troops are searching for Islamic militants.

A 5,000-strong military force has been on the remote island of Jolo since late July trying to flush out rebels from the militant Abu Sayyaf group.

They are also seeking two suspects wanted for the 2002 Bali bombings and thought to be sheltering there.

On Wednesday, two Philippine soldiers were killed and three injured in fresh clashes, an official said.

Troops were flown to a mountainous area of the island where the rebels were thought to be and fighting broke out, military command centre head Colonel Allan Luga said.

Map showing Jolo island

He said US troops helped evacuate the wounded. A number of US troops are based in Jolo, where they are involved in counter-terrorism training.

Col Luga said that radio intercepts indicated that the militants had suffered casualties.

Targets

The soldiers are searching for three key figures - Abu Sayyaf leader Khadaffy Janjalani and Bali bombing suspects Dulmatin and Umar Patek.

Abu Sayyaf is the smallest and most violent militant group in the Philippines. The US has listed it as a terrorist organisation and says it has links to al-Qaeda.

The two Indonesians are thought to belong to Jemaah Islamiah, a regional Islamic network which has also been linked to al-Qaeda.

Col Luga said the operation would continue until the rebels were arrested.

On Monday, six Philippine soldiers were killed in fighting on the island and at least 19 wounded.


SEE ALSO
Two dead in Philippines fighting
23 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippines troops in Jolo clash
01 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Battle rages on Philippine island
13 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Manila sends more troops to Jolo
11 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Bomb caused Philippine ferry fire
11 Oct 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Guide to the Philippines conflict
10 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
03 Jan 06 |  Country profiles

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