Philippine soldiers (Photo:AFP)
Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippine army clashed with Al-Qaeda-linked gunmen believed to be holding foreign hostages on December 30, the military said.

The fighting left one soldier and eight of the gunmen dead. Other four soldiers were injured.

The clash occurred near Patikul town on the remote southern island of Jolo, where gunmen from the Islamic armed group Abu Sayyaf are believed to be holding two Canadian hostages along with a Norwegian and a Filipino.

Regional military spokesman Major Filemon Tan said there were about 100 attackers from the Abu Sayyaf group in the case. However, the fate of the hostages has not been confirmed.

Abu Sayyaf last month released a video of two Canadian tourists, a Norwegian resort operator and a Filipino abducted in another area of the southern Philippines in September, and demanded one billion PHP (21 million USD) in ransom.

A Dutch bird watcher abducted in the southern Philippines in 2012 is also believed by the military to be held by the same group on Jolo.

Founded in the early 1990s, Abu Sayyaf gained international notoriety for kidnapping dozens of foreign tourists for ransom in the early years of the 21st century.

The group has also been blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks, including the bombing of a ferry off Manila Bay in 2004 that killed more than 100 people.

It beheaded a Malaysian hostage last month, several weeks after a 74-year-old man from the Republic of Korea kidnapped in January was found dead on Jolo.-VNA