Philippine troops overrun base of breakaway rebels opposing peace talks
MANILA (REUTERS) - Philippine troops overran a base of a breakaway faction of Muslim rebel group in a week-long offensive aimed at removing potential spoilers for peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf), an army spokesman said on Saturday.
But the rebels hit back, detonating two roadside bombs while an army convoy passed by, injuring six soldiers and six civilians including two crew from a local television station.
The army launched the offensive that killed 52 guerrillas of the Al Qaeda-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (Biff) a day after the government and the mainstream rebel group agreed on a final roadmap for peace talks which were originally agreed in October 2012.
The breakaway rebel group opposes the peace talks and the offensive was seen as removing potential obstacles to it by preempting possible attacks on civilian communities in the southern Philippines.