Philippines says 40 rebels opposed to peace talks killed in offensive in south


MANILA–Philippine troops have killed at least 40 Islamic fighters and captured a rebel stronghold with a bomb-making facility in a three-day offensive against insurgents opposed to a new peace deal, military officials said Thursday.

President Benigno Aquino III said the military launched the assault to protect villages after Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement fighters, including snipers, staged attacks in southern Maguindanao province.

The rebels involved in the fighting have opposed peace talks between the government and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front which were concluded over the weekend in Malaysia.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is visiting Manila, called on all Filipinos to rally behind the peace talks because they would bring massive benefits and help foster peace in the south.