Hundreds of Philippine troops launch assaults on foreign and local militants in the south

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A Philippine military commander says hundreds of troops have launched an offensive to capture six suspected foreign Islamic militants and their Abu Sayyaf allies in the country's south.

Brig. Gen. Allan Arrojado says army troops clashed with about 30 Abu Sayyaf gunmen Tuesday at the start of the assaults near a remote village in mountainous Patikul town in Sulu province. The militants were laying homemade bombs, one of which exploded, when the troops engaged them, Arrojado said, adding that there no immediate reports of casualties from either side.

Arrojado says the six foreign militants are suspected of being from Indonesia and Malaysia and are believed to be providing bomb-making and other assistance to local militants. At least seven Abu Sayyaf commanders were also targeted in the offensive.