21 killed in clash of Filipino extremists and rebels
MANILA (AP) - Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants clashed fiercely with a larger rebel group they had long co-existed with, leaving at least 21 combatants dead in the southern Philippines, police said on Monday.
A commander with the Moro National Liberation Front, which has an autonomy deal with the government, said his group battled Abu Sayyaf gunmen on Sunday after the Abu Sayyaf refused to free several foreign hostages it has held in jungle lairs for months, including a Jordanian TV journalist and two European men.
The militants did release two Filipino hostages who were found by police on Saturday.
Eight Moro rebels and at least 13 Abu Sayyaf militants were killed in the clashes in in the jungle-clad mountains of Sulu province's Patikul town, where hundreds of armed fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front have encamped in the last three weeks to pressure the extremists to free their kidnap victims and end other acts of banditry.