Philippine military assaults kill some Abu Sayyaf extremists

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A Philippine military spokesman says government forces, backed by rocket-firing helicopters and artillery fire, have killed up to nine Abu Sayyaf extremists in battles against the militants in two southern provinces.

Maj. Filemon Tan says 13 more militants were wounded in the military's assault against about 130 Abu Sayyaf fighters Thursday in the jungles of mountainous Patikul town in Sulu province. The clashes left one soldier dead and six wounded.

Tan says in nearby Basilan province, troops fought about 200 Abu Sayyaf gunmen for five hours late Wednesday. The clashes resumed Thursday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

The United States and the Philippines have blacklisted the Abu Sayyaf as a terrorist organization for bombings, kidnappings for ransom and beheadings.