Three Muslim rebels dead, two soldier hurt in Philippine clash

Other News Materials 18 November 2008 07:26 (UTC +04:00)

Three Muslim separatist rebels were killed while two soldiers were hurt in a clash in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said Tuesday.

The firefight occurred on Sunday in the village of Malingaw in Shariff Aguak town, Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila, according to Major Randolph Cabangbang, dpa reported.

Cabangbang said soldiers were on patrol in the village when they encountered a group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, triggering the clash.

Fighting has been on and off between the MILF and the military since August, when the guerrillas launched a series of deadly attacks in the southern region of Mindanao.

The MILF attacks occurred after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of a land deal that would have expanded an autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao.

More than 200 people, including civilians, were killed in the MILF attacks and subsequent clashes with the military. More than 500,000 were also displaced at the height of the fighting.

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.

Various organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Conference, have called on the Philippine government and the MILF to resume the stalled talks.

But Arroyo has stressed the government will only return to the negotiating table if the MILF disarms and demobilizes its forces and reintegrates them into the mainstream community.