[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Philippine army clashes with rebels
Twelve people die as troops attack an encampment of Abu Sayyaf fighters on Basilan Island.
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 14:47
The Philippine army has battled rebels fighting for independence for more than 30 years [Reuters]

Soldiers have clashed with al-Qaeda-linked fighters in the Philippines' volatile south, leaving eight government troops and four rebels dead, military officials say.

Army Major General Ricardo Rainier Cruz said the army struck after pinpointing an encampment of Abu Sayyaf fighters early on Thursday in Basilan Island's Sumisip township. 

Sporadic fighting continued until afternoon, with reinforcement troops deployed.

Officials said the Abu Sayyaf fighters belonged to a group which had attacked rubber plantation workers in Sumisip two weeks ago. Five farm workers and one government militiaman were killed in that attack.

On Wednesday, the same group attacked a military detachment securing the rubber planters' co-operative but no soldier was killed or hurt, army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said.

The plantation workers' co-operative operating in the area had previously received extortion letters purportedly from the Abu Sayyaf demanding payment of more than $1,000 a month in exchange for not being harmed.

For decades, Muslim separatist groups have fought for independence or an autonomous substate in the southern regions they say are their ancestral homelands.

Philippine offensives have weakened the fighters but they remain a threat. They are holding several foreign hostages, apparently in an attempt to raise funds for food and weapons in their jungle hideouts.

Abu Sayyaf has been linked to the worst attacks in Philippine history, including a ferry bombing that killed more than 100 people in 2004.

220

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.