Clashes erupt in south Philippines

Army claims fighters have been raiding villages for food.

    Fighting between separatists and government forces has led to generations of refugees [GALLO/GETTY]

     

    'Getting desperate'

    Ponce said the soldiers were told by residents about the presence of a large number of members of breakaway factions of the MILF, the Philippines's largest Muslim rebel group, being outside their village.

    Ponce accused the fighters of raiding villages for food, stealing grain and livestock.

    "Our troops went there to protect the community," he said.

    The army launched an offensive against guerrillas from the breakaway separatist group last August when they went on the rampage after peace negotiations between the government and the MILF collapsed.

    Fighting across oil and gas-rich marshlands and nearby hills on the southern island of Mindanao has escalated in the past six weeks and displaced more than 50,000 families, pushing back prospects for the resumption of peace talks.

    Nearly 600 people have been killed since August 2008, many of them civilians caught up in the fighting.

    About 2,000 houses in Maguindanao province have been set on fire.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    The priceless racism of the Duke of Edinburgh

    Prince Philip has done the world an extraordinary service by exposing the racist hypocrisy of "Western civilisation".

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    China will determine the future of Venezuela

    There are a number of reasons why Beijing continues to back Maduro's government despite suffering financial losses.