Three soldiers were wounded in a clash with Muslim secessionist rebels in the southern Philippines, a regional army spokesman said Saturday.
Colonel Julieto Ando said he received reports that 19 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels were also killed in the fighting Friday in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, dpa reports.
Ando said the fighting erupted when two teams of MILF rebels attacked an army camp in the village of Tee. He added that the soldiers called for air support since they were outnumbered by the guerrillas.
Fighting between the MILF rebels and the government troops intensified in August after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a territory deal that would have expanded the existing Muslim autonomous region in the southern island of Mindanao.
More than 200 people have been killed in subsequent clashes that also displaced more than 500,000.