Philippine killed at least 13 Muslim fighters on Thursday when aircraft dropped bombs in a southern marshland as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is preparing to take a homeland deal to the international arena.

Major Randolph Cabangbang said dozens of fighters from the MILF were also wounded when soldiers called in an air strike in the Datu Piang area.

"Bombs were dropped from planes and rockets were fired from helicopters "to soften" the ground," Cabangbang said, adding ground troops took the position without much resistance.

Nearly 300 people have been killed in two months of fighting between soldiers and fighters. The fighting has displaced more than 500,00 people.

Meanwhile, Chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal says the MILF would be willing to renegotiate with the Philippine government only on the basis of the homeland deal and in the presence of the international community.

He says the MILF does not seem to get fair treatment from the Philippine government and so would raise the issue before the Organization of Islamic Conference or the United Nations.

The Philippine Supreme Court narrowly ruled that a proposed accord to grant Muslims control over about 700 towns and villages on the southern Mindanao Island was "illegal".

"The court has just thrown to the wind four years of our hard negotiations," Mohaqher Iqbal, the MILF chief peace negotiator, told Reuters. "It proves once again that the constitution is a tool to stifle the Moros’ legitimate aspirations."

Iqbal said the court decision closed the door on any peace talks to end nearly 40 years of conflict.

The government has already said it has given up on the deal after the Supreme Court ordered it halted in August pending a final decision.

Voting 8-7, the country’s highest court accepted a petition by Catholic politicians challenging the legality of the deal that expanded a Muslim homeland in the south.

The Philippines, an archipelagic country located in the western Pacific Ocean, has a population of 90 million people. The population of Muslims is about 12 million. Between the years 1450 and 1515, two Islamic principalities were founded on the islands of Sulu and Mindanao.

After four decades of armed conflict between the Filipino state and the Moro Muslims, the two parties agreed to sign an agreement that would end the conflict. However, the supreme court of the Philippine declared the agreement illegal on August 4, which caused the conflict to resume. During the ongoing clashes over Muslims were killed and over 250,000 were displaced.

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Author: MRN Network

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