Philippine military officials said a two-day offensive in the south has killed 37 militants who were opposed to peace talks between Manila and a main rebel group.
President Benigno Aquino said Wednesday the offensive aims to "seriously degrade" the ability of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to act as peace deal spoilers.
The group is a breakaway faction of the larger Moro Liberation Front (MILF), which on Saturday wrapped up talks aimed at establishing an autonomous Muslim region.
The BIFF have vowed to keep fighting the government, saying the MILF is making too many compromises. Several other rebel groups are also opposed to the peace efforts.
Four decades of deadly fighting in the south have killed more than 120,000 people and prevented development in the region