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21 die in Philippines clashes

Last updated on: January 10, 2005 14:50 IST
At least 21 people died in clashes between soldiers and Muslim separatist rebels in the southern Philippines, report agencies quoting military sources.

The victims include 13 rebels and eight soldiers.

Areas controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) near the town of Mamasapano on Mindanao island were pounded by helicopter gunships after the rebels attacked an army outpost in violation of a two-year-old

ceasefire, said Aljazeera.

Military spokesman Colonel Franklin del Prado of the Philippine army's 6th Infantry Division in the area said the slain soldiers all belonged to the battalion base attacked by the MILF.

Reports from the field indicated that at least 13 MILF rebels died in the counter-offensive, he added.