Authorities say the attackers were Muslims. Islam is the world's largest, oldest, and bloodiest hate group. It is also embraced by Hillary Clinton and other liberal Democrats who want to import hundreds of thousands to the USA.
The killers, numbered at about 150, were identified as part of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
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About 150 fighters of the BIFF launched assaults in different, mainly-Christian, towns before dawn, local military commander Colonel Ricky Bunayog said.
"They abducted farmers and then killed them. When we attempted to recover their bodies, they fired on us," he said in the southern town of Tukuran, one of the the group's targets.
He said that four of the guerrillas were reportedly also slain in the fighting about 775 kilometres south of Manila but villagers said their bodies were carried off by their comrades.
The attackers had since dispersed but the military was planning a "counter-action," Mr Bunayog said, although he would not disclose details.
BIFF spokesman Abu Misry Mama confirmed they were behind the attacks, saying it was over a land dispute. He would not elaborate.
In Manila, military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said the guerrillas may have launched the attack "to make a statement," ahead of the Christian holiday of Christmas.
The Philippines is overwhelmingly Christian but has a Muslim minority that claims the south as their homeland.
The BIFF split from the main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in 2008.
It has opposed a peace process between the Government and the MILF for the creation of a Muslim autonomous area in the south and has vowed to keep fighting for a separate Islamic State (IS).
Last year, the BIFF uploaded clips on YouTube showing one of its leaders pledging support for the IS organisation, the jihadist group that has seized a large swathe of territory in Iraq and Syria.
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