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

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

Troops were aiming “to seriously degrade their abilities to again act as spoilers,” Aquino told reporters.

The rebels involved in the fighting have opposed peace talks.—AP

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