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Anti-rebel offensive 'kills 37'

Nearly 40 hardline Islamic fighters are said to have been killed in a two-day offensive against insurgents in the Philippines opposed to a new peace deal between the government and the main Muslim rebel group.

Regional military spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso said 12 of the 37 dead rebels of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement were identified with the help of village leaders, while others were discovered by troops in freshly-dug graves in a village in southern Maguindanao province.

One soldier died and several were wounded yesterday by home-made bombs hidden around a mosque.

But rebel spokesman Abu Misry disputed the military report, saying there had been no deaths and only seven fighters were wounded in army shelling and helicopter rocket fire.


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