Oct. 25 - Philippine troops launch an offensive against ''lawless elements'' in the south of the country, a day after President Benigno Aquino vows justice for soldiers killed in earlier clashes. Travis Brecher reports.
Philippine troops are continuing an offensive against "lawless elements" in the south, a day after the country's president vowed justice for soldiers killed in earlier clashes. On Monday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino ordered attacks on groups blamed for violence in the south that led to the deaths of about 30 soldiers in one week - but he resisted popular calls to suspend peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Thousands of residents were forced to flee their homes, as security forces launched airstrikes for a second day on known Muslim rebel positions. And police checkpoints were set up as soldiers continued their pursuit of outlaw forces. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CHIEF EDUARD OBAN, SAYING: "The directive is to continue the pursuit of lawless elements, wherever they are." The government and the MILF (M.I.L.F.) have been negotiating since 1997 to end more than four decades of conflict that has killed over 120,000 people. Talks were stalled in August when the rebels rejected Manila's autonomy offer and insisted on setting up a Muslim sub-state in the mainly Roman Catholic country. Travis Brecher, Reuters