An official says dozens of suspected Islamic militants stormed a jail in the volatile southern Philippines, freeing 31 inmates in a nighttime attack that sparked a gunbattle in which two people were killed.

Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul of Basilan island says about 30 gunmen destroyed a concrete wall and then barged into the provincial jail in Isabela city before dawn Sunday to free several detained Muslim guerrillas, adding that other inmates also dashed to freedom.

Police say at least 31 inmates escaped, including suspected members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a large Muslim rebel group engaged in peace talks with the government.

Sakalahul says the jail assault sparked a brief clash that killed one attacker and a jail guard.