At least 37 Islamic fighters have been killed in a two-day offensive against insurgents opposed to a new peace deal between the government and the main Muslim rebel group, military officials said Wednesday.
President Benigno Aquino III said the military launched the assault to protect villages after Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement fighters staged attacks in southern Maguindanao province. Troops were aiming "to seriously degrade their abilities to again act as spoilers," Aquino told reporters.
The rebels involved in the fighting have opposed peace talks between the government and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which were concluded over the weekend in Malaysia. They said because the Malaysian-brokered talks would not lead to a separate homeland for minority Muslims in the south they would continue their armed uprising.