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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 06:55 GMT
Five killed in Philippines clash
Two soldiers have been killed in a clash with suspected Islamic militants in the southern Philippines, military officials say.

At least three militants also died in the violence, which took place in Maimbung on the restive island of Jolo.

The soldiers were searching for a woman believed kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf guerrillas when the clash happened.

Troops have been targeting Abu Sayyaf militants on Jolo and the nearby island of Basilan for several months.

A military spokesman, Major Eugene Batara, said that another five wounded soldiers were air lifted to hospital.

"Our troops recovered an assault rifle and the bodies of three dead rebels," he said.

In recent months, Philippine troops have increased operations in the region.

Militants from both Abu Sayyaf, which the US says has links to al-Qaeda, and regional Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah are thought to be holed up in remote jungle areas.

There are frequent attacks in the area. In August last year, 26 soldiers and about 30 militants were killed in one clash in Jolo.

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