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18 soldiers killed by Islamist militants in the Philippines

By Shawn Price

MANILA, April 11 (UPI) -- A shootout between government forces and Islamist militant group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines killed at least 18 soldiers and injured more than 50 others, officials said.

Two militants died in the incident, including a Moroccan bomb maker and the militant leader's son. At least 20 were injured, military officials said.

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The 10-hour shootout took place Saturday on the southwestern island of Basilan. It was the largest loss of government soldiers in a single day this year on the tense island, known as a hotbed of Communist and Islamist rebels.

Philippine media reported about 100 Abu Sayyaf fighters battled troops.

Soldiers were attacked while searching for members of the militant group outside the small town of Tipo-Tipo early Saturday.

Despite Abu Sayyaf and other rebel groups declaring allegiance to the Islamic State, Philippine military officials said there is no evidence they are being supported in any way from the militant group.

More than 30 police commandos were killed by Islamist extremists during a 2015 government raid on the mainland.

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