Child soldiers among 53 dead as Philippine troops overrun rebels
MANILA (AFP) - Three child soldiers recruited by hardline Muslim rebels were among 53 people killed in a week of fighting with the Philippine army, a military official said on Friday.
Regional spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso said the offensive against members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group in the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao had resulted in the deaths of 52 rebels, including the children, and one soldier.
"They are employing child soldiers with guns and camouflage uniforms. When we encounter them, we cannot discriminate if they are children or not," he told AFP.
He said that soldiers and local residents confirmed the three child soldiers were among the guerrillas buried soon after their deaths, according to Islamic custom.