MANILA // Two US soldiers and one Filipino marine were killed on Tuesday in a landmine attack in a stronghold of Islamic militants in the southern Philippines. A Philippine army spokesman, Lieut-Col Romeo Brawner, said two other Filipino soldiers were wounded when the vehicle they were riding in struck an improvised landmine near Indanan town on the island of Jolo. They were the first deaths since 2002 among US soldiers deployed in troubled areas in the southern Philippines. In that year, one soldier in a restaurant was killed by a bomb on a motorcycle parked outside.
Lieut-Col Brawner said: "We're still investigating to determine who was behind the explosion." The latest attack happened near a Marine outpost in Indanan, he said. Since 2002, the US has deployed about 300 soldiers to help train, advise and assist local troops fight a small group of Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have close ties to the regional militant network, Jemaah Islamiah (JI). US troops are not allowed to participate in actual combat, but are authorised to fight back when attacked. Rebels have fired at US soldiers on Jolo island in past incidents. Last month, the Philippine military lost 23 soldiers during an assault on the Abu Sayyaf's main base near Indanan, one of the biggest battles since 2007. * Reuters