Philippine marines have killed at least six Muslim rebels and captured one of their jungle bases in fighting in the south, military officials said.

Backed by armed villagers, the marines launched an assault over the weekend after several Abu Sayyaf fighters were monitored in their jungle lair near Talipao town on Jolo Island, Colonel Jose Cenabre, marine brigade commander, said on Monday.

Marine officers involved in the battle said three fighters were killed in a clash and three more died later in shelling. Six villagers on the side of the marines were wounded.

Marines were clearing the captured Abu Sayyaf encampment of traps and searching for homemade bombs and rebel documents.

Abu Sayyaf gunmen are still holding more than a dozen hostages in jungle-clad Jolo in Sulu province, including two Europeans who were kidnapped last year.

The captives were not in the Abu Sayyaf encampment that came under attack over the weekend, Cenabre said.

The United States lists the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for kidnappings for ransom, beheadings and bombings, as a terrorist organisation.

There are an estimated more than 300 Abu Sayyaf fighters who have survived years of US-backed Philippine offensives.

Source: AP