Philippine troops kill four rebels
Philippine security forces killed at least four Islamic militants in a series of gunbattles on a southern island, an army general said, as soldiers began collecting unlicensed guns from civilians in the area.
Major-General Ruben Rafael said fighting between soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic militant group with suspected ties to al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiah, broke out first on Tuesday on the island of Jolo.
Fighting continued on Wednesday.
"We lost one soldier and seven were wounded, including two marines," Rafael told reporters. "We recovered the bodies of four dead Abu Sayyaf. Our troops believed they had inflicted heavy casualties on the rebel side."
Rafael said the fighting on Jolo island was not connected to punitive action launched by the marines against Muslim rebels suspected to have a role in the beheading of 10 soldiers during a nine-hour gun battle on nearby Basilan island on July 10.
He said the soldiers on Jolo were trying to collect weapons from civilians when they were engaged by the Abu Sayyaf.
On Basilan, troops pounded known positions of the Abu Sayyaf with howitzer and mortar shells after the rebels fired at a marine base on Monday night.
There were no casualties reported in the shelling, but the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) warned the soldiers that it would be forced to retaliate because some of the artillery rounds fell close to its positions.
The MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, is engaged in a peace process with the government.
The MILF has been in peace processes with the Philippine government since the late 1990s for all the good its done. And here's demographic tid-bit for you. The southern part of the Philippines may be home to the majority of Muslims BUT they are not the percentage majority of that area. No matter, they demand an Islamic State anyways. I'm sure they'll take care of the demographic imbalance afterwards.