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4 killed as Philippine troops clash with Abu Sayyaf, Malaysian militants

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MANILA, Philippines — Philippine troops overran a bomb factory of Abu Sayyaf militants after a firefight that killed three insurgents and a soldier in the country's restive south, the military said Friday.

Troops on Basilan Island, the birthplace of the Muslim militant Abu Sayyaf movement, clashed with 25 rebels who also included one Malaysian on Thursday, said Rear Adm. Reynaldo Yoma, a military task force commander.

The four-hour running battle left one soldier dead and seven wounded, and on the side of the militants, three killed and three wounded. Soldiers, however, recovered the body of only one Abu Sayyaf fighter.

Troops later entered a camp believed to be used as a bomb factory and a training facility and found various types of homemade boms, Yoma said.

The Abu Sayyaf, a loose grouping of around 400 Muslim rebels, has turned to ransom kidnappings, extortion and other crimes to survive years of battle setbacks dealt by U.S. military-backed Philippine offensives.

The Abu Sayyaf is one of several Muslim rebel groups operating in the predominantly Christian nation's south. The biggest rebel movement has signed a peace agreement with the government in exchange for broad autonomy, but the Abu Sayyaf have never been part of any negotiations.

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