Manila – Two soldiers and five Muslim militants were killed in a clash in the southern Philippines, the military said Sunday.

Four soldiers were also wounded Saturday in Sumisip town in Basilan province, 900 kilometres south of Manila.

Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said the soldiers attacked a suspected rebel hideout after they encountered a group of Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels in the village of Biawas.

He said one of the five slain Abu Sayyaf rebels was a leader of the group, which allegedly has links to the international al-Qaeda terrorist network.

Cabangbang said troops seized the camp after a three-hour combat and found seven bunkers, ammunition and communication equipment.

The Abu Sayyaf is the smallest but most violent Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines. It has been blamed for some of the worst terrorist attacks in the country.

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