The Philippine military says fierce clashes between government troops and Muslim extremists in the country's south have left at least 14 combatans dead.

Military spokesman Maj. Filemon Tan says 10 Abu Sayyaf rebels were killed in Friday n Sulu province, but troops retrieved only three bodies.

Four were killed and nine wounded on the government side.

Tan says army units encountered some 150 militants in Patikul township and exchanged fire for 45 minutes until the extremists withdrew. Soldiers then pounded the rebels' position with artillery fire and put up checkpoints as they pursued the militants.

The Abu Sayyaf, which is blacklisted by the U.S. and the Philippines as a terrorist organization, holds more than a dozen foreign and local hostages.