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Philippine troops kill 5 Abu Sayyaf gunmen in clash, seize militants' camp

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MANILA, Philippines — Philippine troops killed at least five Abu Sayyaf gunmen and seized their camp in a clash in an ongoing offensive in the south, a military spokeswoman said Monday.

Army troops and marines were on their way to arrest an Abu Sayyaf commander on Sunday when an undetermined number of militants opened fire at them, sparking a clash in a village near Sumisip town in Basilan province, marine Capt. Maria Rowena Muyuela said.

At least five Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in the fighting, Muyuela said, citing accounts from villagers. There were no military casualties.

Government troops later seized the militants' camp which had 10 huts, trenches and foxholes that could accommodate about 50 militants, Muyuela said. They also found a shotgun, ammunition and rebel documents.

Government forces have launched a new campaign against the Abu Sayyaf, which has been blamed for a series of ransom kidnappings of Filipino villagers and foreign tourists in the south. The militants are still holding about a dozen hostages, including two European birdwatchers kidnapped two years ago and a Malaysian police officer who was seized earlier this year from Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo Island.

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