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Militants ambush Philippine troops, wounding 7

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The Philippine military says Muslim militants have ambushed an army patrol on a restive southern island, wounding seven soldiers.

Regional army commander Col. Charlie Galvez blamed al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants for Tuesday’s ambush on Basilan Island. He says the attackers want to sabotage the peace process between the government and the main Muslim rebel group, which last year agreed to lay down arms in exchange for broad autonomy.

Basilan is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, which is notorious for bombings and kidnappings. There is hope that the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would isolate the Abu Sayyaf and help U.S.-backed Philippine troops finish off the militants.

Galvez said helicopters used by the U.S. military evacuated some of the wounded troops from Basilan.

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