2 Philippine Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Rebels

The Philippine military says two soldiers and an undetermined number of fighters from a Muslim rebel group were killed during a gunbattle Thursday.

Officials say the fighting began when rebels from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) group attacked an army detachment in the southern province of North Cotabato.

The fighting comes a day after President Benigno Aquino asked lawmakers to pass a deal that would create an autonomous Muslim region.

The proposed self-governing region is part of a historic peace accord agreed to earlier this year by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

BIFF, which split from MILF in 2008, is opposed to the peace deal and has promised to keep fighting until full independence is achieved.

Decades of fighting in the south have left thousands dead and prevented development in the region.

Material for this report came from AFP.

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