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Rampaging gunman kills 10 in Philippines

Major-General Nehemias Pajarito says it is unclear if the gunman is a soldier or a civilian.

world Updated: Apr 09, 2007 14:49 IST

An unidentified gunman killed nine soldiers and one civilian in a rampage inside a patrol base in the southern Philippines, a senior military official said on Sunday.

Major-General Nehemias Pajarito said it was unclear if the gunman was a soldier or whether he was killed in the pre-dawn shoot-out on Saturday at a base in Parang on the island of Jolo.

"We are not certain yet if the one who went on the rampage was a soldier. He could be the civilian who is among the dead," Pajarito said. "We are investigating."

Since August, nearly 10,000 soldiers have been battling the Philippines' deadliest Muslim rebel group, the Abu Sayyaf, in fierce clashes on Jolo, a kidney-shaped island around 600 miles (950 km) south of Manila.

The ground offensive has been the most successful yet against Abu Sayyaf. Around 70 militants, including the group's top two leaders, have been killed out of a 400-strong outfit.

Dozens of troops have also been killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting, which has also displaced thousands of villagers.

Abu Sayyaf is the most militant of four Islamic rebel groups in the Philippines, a largely Catholic country, where Muslims in the south have been seeking independence for decades in a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people.