Philippine militants kill 6 soldiers, marine in fierce fighting in south

Philippine military officials say six soldiers and a marine have been killed in clashes with Abu Sayyaf militants in the south.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala says government forces assaulted an Abu Sayyaf camp, sparking fierce fighting in which a marine was killed after dawn Thursday in Patikul town in Sulu, a predominantly Muslim province in the south. Army reinforcements were hit by mortar fire 10 minutes later, killing six soldiers.

Zagala says there was no report of casualties among the militants, who have been holding a number of hostages in Sulu, including two European bird watchers who were kidnapped two years ago.

The Abu Sayyaf is listed by Washington as a terrorist organization and has an estimated 300 armed fighters.