(CNN) -- Five Filipino soldiers were killed and 24 others wounded during an overnight gun battle with a faction of a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines' southern region, a military spokesman said.
Filipino soldiers check weapons captured from Moro Islamic Liberation Front militants in November.
The fighting in Basilan province broke out after ongoing peace negotiations with rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hit an impasse, said Maj. Ramon Zagala.
Early reports indicated the fighters were from a rogue faction of the front, but the military later identified them as members of the Islamic militant group Abu Sayyaf, which has been linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network, Zagala said.
Abu Sayyaf members were seeking refuge in MILF-controlled towns, drawing a military response, Zagala said. The militants retaliated Sunday with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, he said.
The splinter group originally believed to have been involved in the firefight, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, issued a statement accusing Filipino troops of using artillery and "indiscriminately" launched airstrikes.The statement, posted Monday on a pro-Moro Website, included no report of casualties.
The government of the Philippines has been involved in peace negotiations with Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2003.
CNN's Tess Eastment contributed to this report.
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