Military says it has killed 17 fighters opposed to recent peace deal to end decades-long conflict in southern region.
Last updated: 28 Jan 2014 06:48
|The Philippines military has said it killed 17 rebels opposed to a peace deal between the government and the country’s main Muslim rebel group, in fighting which raged for two days.
More than 1,500 troops were on Tursday involved in the offensive against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in remote farming areas of the mainly Catholic country’s Muslim south, the military’s spokesman, Colonel Dickson Hermoso, told the AFP news agency.
Seventeen BIFF members had been confirmed killed in this week’s clashes, while two soldiers and one civilian were wounded, he added.
The assault was launched on Monday, two days after the successful end of negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aimed at ending a decades-long conflict that has killed tens of thousands.
The BIFF is a small group of fighters opposed to the peace effort, which has carried out many deadly attacks in recent years in a bid to derail the peace process.
He said small arms skirmishes were continuing on Tuesday in three farming villages on the edge of a marsh near the town of Datu Piang, about 800km south of Manila.
Hermoso said the BIFF had about 120 “hardcore” members who were backed by relatives and members of other armed groups opposed to the peace talks.
“Putting an end to the BIFF armed challenge will be a big help to the autonomous Muslim political entity that will be created by the peace agreement,” Hermoso added.