27 killed in clashes in southern Philippines

The military says 20 Muslim rebels and seven soldiers backed by artillery and armored vehicles have been killed in clashes in the southern Philippines. Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce said Saturday that soldiers engaged about 80 Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas in gunbattles Friday outside Mamasapano township in Maguindanao province. He said the soldiers were checking reports that the rebels were gathering in Bialong when the clash erupted. He said the guerrillas were believed to be under Umbra Kato, one of three rebel commanders who led a bloody rampage that killed dozens of civilians in several communities following the scrapping of a preliminary peace deal last year.