Philippine troops clashed Monday with Muslim separatist rebels who were allegedly planning to attack towns in a southern province, an army commander said.
The firefight erupted in the town of Wao in Lanao del Sur province, 810 kilometres south of Manila, after intelligence reports warned of a possible attack by up to 200 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, reported dpa.
Colonel Nicanor Dolojan, an army brigade commander, said government troops launched "clearing operations" against MILF rebels who were "threatening to attack military installations and municipalities of Wao and nearby Bumbaran."
"We conducted the clearing operations to preempt the attacks, and this resulted to the encounter," he said.
Dolojan said there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The military has been conducting offensives against three MILF commanders who seized villages and attacked towns in several provinces in the strife-torn southern region of Mindanao in August.
The MILF attacks occurred after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a land deal that would have expanded the autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.
More than 200 people have been killed in subsequent clashes between the MILF and the military. More than 500,000 civilians have been displaced.
Due to the hostilities, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo dissolved the government peace panel negotiating with the MILF and ordered a review of the peace talks with the rebel group.
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the peace talks with the MILF would resume as soon as the government finalize new guidelines for the negotiations.