Reuters International

CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamic State has claimed responsibility for clashes between militants linked to the group and Philippine soldiers this week that led to the death of 23 people.

"With the grace of god we were able to detonate seven trucks carrying soldiers," an Islamic State statement said.

The attack led to the death of three of its own militants, the statement added.

Philippine soldiers battled a group of about 120 Muslim rebels in a ten-hour assault on a southern island.

The army said the military had attacked a stronghold of rebels linked to Islamic State on the island of Basilan led by an insurgent for whom the U.S. State Department has offered a bounty of up to $5 million.

In March 2014, the government signed a peace deal with the largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, promising to grant autonomy in the south and ending a 45-year conflict that has killed 120,000 people and displaced 2 million.

(Reporting by Ali Abdelaty; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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