Eight civilians were injured when Muslim secessionist rebels attacked an army outpost in the southern Philippines, an army brigade commander said Saturday.
Colonel Marlou Salazar said Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades at an army outpost in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, late Friday but the grenades hit nearby houses of civilians, reported dpa.
Salazar said the injured civilians were three elders and five children who were asleep when their houses were hit by the rocket-propelled grenades.
"We have not yet determined if the rebels suffered casualties when our troops retaliated," he said. "No casualty on the government side."
Eid Kabalu, MILF spokesman, confirmed the attack on an army outpost in Datu Piang but denied the rebels were targeting civilians.
"If that is the case, they (injured civilians) were to be called part of collateral damage," he said.
Friday's attack occurred as the military claimed killing 31 MILF rebels in three days of fighting in the towns of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Guindulungan and Datu Piang in Maguindanao and Aleosan in nearby North Cotabato. The military said one soldier was killed in the clashes.
Government security forces have intensified operations against three MILF commanders who attacked against towns and seized villages last month.
The attacks occurred after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a territory deal that would have expanded the existing autonomous Muslim region in the strife-torn region of Mindanao.
More than 200 people have been killed in the subsequent clashes between the MILF rebels and the government and more than 500,000 displaced.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo dissolved the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF. She vowed not to resume the negotiations until those responsible for the attacks have been brought to justice.