Gunmen of the MILF (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – At least 25 people were killed in clashes between the government-backed Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and gunmen of the self-claimed Islamic State (IS) in southern Philippines, said the Philippine Army on August 14.

The clashes took place amid efforts of the Philippine armed forces to re-establish order in the southern island of Mindanao.

The Philippine Government and the MILF had signed a peace agreement to contain insurgents in Mindanao who pledged allegiance to the IS.

The MILF said extremists are crushing efforts to seek stronger Muslim autonomy in Mindanao, which aims to end nearly 50 years of conflict claiming over 120,000 lives and making two million people abandon their houses.

Clashes began on August 7 when militants of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighter (BIFF) attacked two villages in Maguindanao, killing five MILF gunmen. The fight has lasted for six days.

The BIFF is a breakaway from the MILF which disagrees with the peace process and wants to form an Islamic state in southern Philippines.

It is likely to join hands with the Maute group, which has occupied a shopping mall in Marawi city of Mindanao during clashes with Philippine armed forces, said the Philippine army. The clashes have lasted for more than 80 days, with about 700 people killed.

Martial law has been imposed in Mindanao at least until the end of the year, while Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is striving to suppress increasing threats from insurgents.-VNA