Six suspected Islamist militants were killed Friday in clashes with government troops in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said.

Eleven soldiers were also wounded in the firefights in Basilan province and Jolo Island, both strongholds of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group.

Major Filemon Tan, a regional military spokesman, said the soldiers were on security patrols when they encountered groups of Abu Sayyaf members.

Two militants were killed in the clash in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan, 900 kilomtres south of Manila, where nine soldiers were also wounded, Tan said.

In Indanan town on nearby Jolo Island, four Abu Sayyaf members were killed while two soldiers were wounded, he added.

Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Philippines, as well as high-profile kidnappings for ransom of foreign hostages.

The militants are believed to be currently holding captive a Norwegian, five Malaysian crewmen and seven Indonesians on Jolo Island.

They beheaded two Canadian hostages in April and June after a ransom was not paid for their freedom.

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