Philippine marines killed five Muslim rebels whose leader has been accused of helping al-Qaida-linked operatives, the military said Tuesday.
The marines clashed with about 200 guerrillas under the command of Habier Malik of the Moro National Liberation Front in Kalingalan Caluang township on southern Jolo island. Five guerrillas were killed, said marine spokesman Lt. Col. Ariel Caculitan.
The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996, but most of its fighters, including those under Malik, have kept their weapons.
The military has accused Malik of helping the Abu Sayyaf group, which has been linked to al-Qaida and blamed for numerous terror attacks. It said the ongoing operations are targeting Malik and his group, not the MNLF.