Fighting in southern Philippines kills 37 rebels, one soldier

Photo: Fighting in southern Philippines kills 37 rebels, one soldier  / Other News

At least 37 Muslim rebels and one soldier have been killed in an offensive against guerrilla forces opposed to a peace deal in the southern Philippines, the military said Wednesday.

Seven soldiers were also wounded in the fighting in four towns in Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, said Colonel Dickson Hermoso, an army division spokesman, dpa reported.

Hermoso said guerrillas from the breakaway faction of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) bombed a public transportation terminal in Datu Piang town on Tuesday, wounding two people.

"The [army] operation will continue in the next 72 hours," he said.

President Benigno Aquino said the offensive was launched against the breakaway guerrillas to "seriously degrade their abilities to again act as spoilers."

The MILF on Saturday agreed to decommission its forces in a key agreement signed with the government in Kuala Lumpur. The agreement was the last of four annexes to a preliminary peace deal signed by the two sides in October 2012.

The peace deal calls for the creation of a new Muslim autonomous entity called Bangsamoro, or Muslim nation, under a law to be approved by Congress.

The new entity would have substantive control over natural resources and wealth and revenues generated in the southern region of Mindanao.

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