At least five soldiers and five Muslim rebels were killed in sporadic fighting since Sunday in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, a known stronghold of Islamic militants, a military spokeswoman said Monday. Marines on combat operations were attacked by the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and smaller militant group Abu Sayyaf after troops captured a mountainous area near the sea believed to be a major route used by the rebels to transport supplies and kidnap victims. "We occupied that place so that they could not use it anymore as a staging ground," Lieutenant Steffani Cacho told Reuters. "When we occupied it, they were attacked by the rebels." The MILF has warned of renewed hostilities after the last 12 Malaysian peacekeepers withdrew last week, frustrated over the slow pace of peace talks between the government and Muslim rebels. Mohagher Iqbal, chief peace negotiator of the MILF, told Reuters three of their members were killed, including ceasefire monitoring member Sattar Alih, in government bombing operations. "He's a very active member of our local ceasefire monitoring team," Igbal said. "Our forces in Basilan were attacked." One OV-10 bomber plane providing air support to the Marines was hit but safely landed after returning immediately to the military air base in nearby Zamboanga province. The MILF has been in off-on talks with Manila for more than a decade to end 40 years of conflict that has killed 120,000 people and stunted growth in a region rich in oil, gas and mineral resources.