Military officials in the Philippines claimed Friday that the country’s security forces have killed over eight Islamic militants belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a series of gun-battles in two towns in southern Philippines over the past week.
Military spokesman Colonel Jonathan Ponce told reporters that government troops did not suffer any casualties in the fighting in Pikit town in North Cotabato province and Datu Piang town in nearby Maguindanao province.
He said that the rebels killed by the troops were under the command of Ameril Umbra Kato, one of the MILF commanders who led the attacks on towns and villages in the southern province of Mindanao last August.
The MILF, the largest Muslim rebel group in Philippines, has been fighting for a Muslim state in the southern Mindanao region since it’s founding in 1970s. They have engaged in peace talks with the government in the past to end the 40-year long conflict.
Their recent talks ended in a dead lock last August after the country’s Supreme Court temporarily suspended a government-MILF deal that would have expanded the Muslim autonomous zone to include another 712 villages.