Twenty-four soldiers were killed and 16 wounded in running battles with Al Qaeda-linked militants in the southern Philippines, the military said Monday. Troops launched attacks against Abu Sayyaf militants on the southern islands of Basilan and Jolo Sunday and fighting was continuing early Monday, said Lieutenant Stephanie Cacho. "There is still sporadic fighting today," Cacho, a spokeswoman for the military's Western Mindanao command, told foreign news agency. She said fighting on Basilan was concentrated in its interior jungle area where Muslim militants also beheaded 14 Marines in July last year. "This operation is part of our campaign to flush out the Abu Sayyaf which is responsible for a series of kidnappings," Cacho said.