The military says gunmen in an area of the restive southern Philippines where Muslim militants are active have killed six people and wounded 22 in an ambush near a rubber plantation.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang quoted a field report from Basilan Island as saying that rubber plantation workers were travelling in a truck early Wednesday when they came under attack.

Details are sketchy but he says initial reports say at least five civilians and one government militiaman were killed, while 19 civilians and three militiamen were wounded.

Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf rebels have targeted the rubber plantation previously over ransom demands.

A decade of U.S.-backed Philippine military offensives have weakened the militants but they remain a threat and are still holding at least five foreigners hostage.

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