MANILA, Dec 8, 2015:

At least six people were killed when suspected Muslim guerillas clashed with armed Christian settlers in the southern Philippines on Tuesday in a feud over land, police said.

At least 30 armed men, suspected to be from a Muslim rebel group, descended on the southern town of Tulunan on Mindanao island and began harassing Christian farmers at noon, said Senior Inspector Ronnie Dillera, the town police chief.

The Christians fought back, triggering a gunbattle that lasted about three hours and left three villagers and three Muslim gunmen dead, he added.

The clash was an offshoot of a dispute over a 10ha lot between Christians and Muslims in the area, the police chief added.

Although the Philippines is largely Catholic, there is a significant Muslim minority which counts the southern region as its traditional homeland.

Christian settlement in the south has led to violent clashes with Muslims over the years including a Muslim insurgency that has claimed over 100,000 lives since the 1970s.

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