At least 23 members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and 2 Philippine government soldiers perished in clashes on Mindanao Island that broke out on March 10, according to Philippine media.

The public affairs office chief of the country’s army, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, was quoted as saying that army forces were supported by four MD520 attack helicopters and artillery units.

The fighting was carried out in marshy areas and rebels have been splitting into small groups to sneak away.

The BIFF separated from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the biggest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines.

In early February, the Philippine armed forces began a campaign to combat rebels in Pikit town in Cotaboto province.

So far, 96 BIFF gunmen and 6 national army soldiers have been killed with another 31 soldiers injured since the start of the campaign, local media said.-VNA