The attackers were members of a group called Awiiyah, which has links to the Abu Sayyaf grouup that has been responsible for dozens of attacks and kidnappings on Jolo and other parts of the south, according to regional military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.
The group was trying to take control of a remote section of Jolo from the territory, he said.
"They probably attacked based on the wrong information," he said. “They may have thought the soldiers were still getting up but at that hour, there are already a lot of soldiers who are active.”
Five soldiers were also wounded in the attack and had to be flown to a hospital by helicopter, according to Cabangbang.
Most of the Philippines population is Roman Catholic but it also has about four million Muslims, mainly in the south.