MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The military says it has launched a strike on Abu Sayyaf extremists in the southern Philippines and ongoing clashes have left at least 18 soldiers wounded.

Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said around 200 troops were deployed before dawn Friday to flush out around 20 militants led by Puruji Indama, a commander of the militant Muslim group, from a village in Basilan island’s Tipo-Tipo township.

Indama has been wanted by Philippine authorities for his alleged involvement in deadly bombings and kidnappings, including of a former Australian soldier freed last year after 15 months of jungle captivity and payment of ransom. He also has been blamed for the 2007 beheadings of 10 marines in Basilan, a widely condemned atrocity.

Zagala says he had no immediate information on Abu Sayyaf casualties.

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