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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Rebels kill 20 Philippine troops
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At least 20 Philippine soldiers have been killed by suspected Islamic rebels on the southern island of Jolo.

Ten of the victims died when gunmen ambushed a military convoy near the town of Maimbung.

Troops were sent to engage the rebels and during the battle which followed 10 more soldiers died.

The military blamed Abu Sayyaf - an Islamic militant group allegedly tied to al-Qaeda - and rogue elements in the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

The MNLF, which signed a peace deal with the government in 1996, said it was behind Thursday's ambush.

It said the attack was retaliation for an army offensive a day earlier.

Hatimil Hassan, deputy chairman of the MNLF, said on local TV: "(The ambush) was not Abu Sayyaf. It was our troops. It was the military's fault. They started it all."

The government wants peace with the MNLF, although some of its members have refused to disarm.

But Manila has sworn to destroy Abu Sayyaf, which is blamed for the Philippines' worst terror attack - a ferry bombing in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

Thousands of Philippine troops are based in Jolo, some 950km (600 miles) south of the Philippine capital, Manila.

They have been fighting Islamic militants holed up in the island's mountainous terrain for several months.




SEE ALSO
Abu Sayyaf 'chooses new leader'
28 Jun 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Ten dead at Philippine army base
08 Apr 07 |  Asia-Pacific
US helps fight against Abu Sayyaf
02 Apr 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippines troops in Jolo clash
01 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Testing confirms Abu Sayyaf death
20 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Guide to the Philippines conflict
10 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
28 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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