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13 killed in clash with Muslim rebels: Philippines military

Twelve Muslim separatists and a soldier were killed in clashes in the southern Philippines when government forces foiled a rebel attack on a town, the military said.

world Updated: Apr 01, 2009 08:40 IST

Twelve Muslim separatists and a soldier were killed in clashes in the southern Philippines when government forces foiled a rebel attack on a town, the military said on Tuesday.

Army Scout Rangers backed by helicopter gunships on Monday ambushed a Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) unit on the outskirts of Alamada town, said regional military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Ponce.

Security forces recovered the bodies of 12 MILF rebels and a soldier after a two-hour firefight, he told reporters.

Three other soldiers were wounded, he added.

The 12,000-member MILF has been waging a decades-old insurgency to set up a Muslim state in the southern Philippines, where Christian settlers now outnumber the original inhabitants.

Alamada, on the major southern island of Mindanao, is a frequent flashpoint of Muslim-Christian disputes over farmland.

President Gloria Arroyo halted peace talks last year after the Supreme Court blocked a draft peace agreement that would have given the Muslims political and economic control of the south.

This triggered MILF attacks on Christian communities that left dozens of civilians dead and displaced about 600,000 people.