Philippine President vows to crush 'spoiler' rebels opposed to peace deal
MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino vowed on Wednesday to crush militants opposed to an imminent deal aimed at ending a decades-long Muslim separatist insurgency, as the death toll from a military assault on them rose to 38.
The government wrapped up peace talks with the nation's biggest Muslim rebel group on Saturday, then quickly deployed the military against a hardline splinter faction called the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
"The armed forces... (are) going on these operations to prevent lawless activities from inflicting harm on our population, and to seriously degrade their abilities to again act as (peace) spoilers," Mr Aquino told reporters in Manila.
The main rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has since the 1970s been fighting for independence or autonomy in the Muslim-populated south of the mainly Catholic Philippines.