Philippine troops have killed at least 11 Abu Sayyaf militants, including an influential commander, in an assault on the extremists following their beheading of a captive over an unpaid ransom.

Regional military commander Maj. Filemon Tan says 17 soldiers were wounded when hundreds of army troops surrounded a vast jungle area in Sulu province's mountainous Patikul town Friday and clashed with scattered groups of about 100 militants.

Tan says one of the 11 dead militants was Amah Maas, a commander with severed arms, who had been implicated in ransom kidnappings, including of European tourists.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the troops to seek and destroy the militants in their jungle bases after the extremists beheaded a Filipino teenager abducted last month.