Eight Muslim rebels killed in southern Philippine clash
Eight Muslim separatist rebels were killed in a clash with government troops in the southern Philippines, an army spokesman said Tuesday.
The fighting occurred in the town of Kabuntalan in Maguindanao province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, on Monday, according to Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Ponce, dpa reported.
"At least eight MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) rebels were confirmed dead by our advance troops," he said.
Ponce said the guerrillas were the same group that clashed with troops in nearby Datu Piang town on Sunday, killing two soldiers.
The rebels were believed to be under MILF Commander Umbra Kato, wanted for leading his men in seizing villages and attacking homes and businesses in the area in August 2008.
The attacks were triggered by a Supreme Court decision to stop the signing of a key territory agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.
More than 200 people were killed in the attacks and subsequent fighting between the MILF and the military. More than 500,000 were also displaced at the height of the hostilities.
Philippine troops have been hunting down Kato and two other MILF commanders wanted for the August attacks, but they have so far failed to arrest them.
The 12,000-strong MILF has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines since 1978. It entered into peace negotiations with the government in 1997.
The peace talks, however, have been suspended since the hostilities broke out in August 2008.
On the weekend, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo asked Malaysia, which had been facilitating the peace talks, to help restart the negotiations.