One soldier killed in clash with Muslim rebels in Philippines

One soldier was killed Thursday in a clash with Muslim separatist rebels in the southern Philippines, a regional military spokesman said, reported dpa.

The fighting erupted at dawn when Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels attacked a group of soldiers who were on their way to an army outpost in Aleosan town in North Cotabato province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, Major Randolph Cabangbang said.

The fatality was an army sergeant who died while being treated for gunshot wounds in a nearby hospital, Cabangbang said.

The military reported several clashes overnight with MILF rebels in the towns of Mamasapano, Guindulungan and Datu Piang in nearby Maguindanao province, but there were no report of casualties.

The fighting between the MILF and security forces escalated in August after the Supreme Court stopped a territorial deal between the rebel group and the government that would have expanded an existing autonomous Muslim region in the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declared the deal unconstitutional. The MILF vowed to elevate the case to the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Conference as it accused the government of failing to honour the agreement, which both parties finalized after years of negotiations.

Opponents of the deal argued that the agreement would lead to the Balkanization of the Christian-majority Philippines.

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