23 killed in Philippine clash


Manila, Feb 23 (IANS) At least 20 members of a terrorist group and three soldiers were killed while six other soldiers were injured in continuing clashes in southern Philippines since last Saturday, the military reported on Tuesday.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said the fighting broke out when the terrorists, initially composed of 40 men, attacked a military detachment in Bayabao village in Butig town of Lanao del Sur Province last Saturday, Xinhua reported.

“The motive of the attack remains unknown,” Padilla told reporters in a press briefing, adding that soldiers from the Army’ s 51st Infantry Battalion manning the detachment were able to defend their position.

“When (government) reinforcements arrived late weekend, the (terrorist) group was held at bay, were cordoned off and are holding their position as of press time,” Padilla said.