MANILA, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Philippine troops have killed at least 16 suspected terrorists in a weeklong offensive in the south Philippines' Maguindanao province, the military said on Wednesday.
The military said three soldiers were also wounded in the clashes that broke out on March 17 in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.
The military said the initial four-day firefight, which broke out last week, resulted in the killing of 14 Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), an armed group allegedly aligned with the Islamic State group. The military claimed that 25 other militants were wounded.
The military said the 45-minute fighting erupted on Monday in Shariff Aguak town, killing a BIFF fighter. Fighting broke out again the next day in Guindulungan town that left a BIFF militant killed, the military added.
Troops recovered several firearms in the clashes, including a 45 caliber pistol, a rifle grenade, and seven improvised explosive devices.
At least 5,700 families in the affected villages have been evacuated to safety following days of the gunbattle, the military said.
Major General Juvymax Uy, the regional army commander, said the offensives were part of the military's "sustained efforts to destroy" the terrorist group.
The BIFF, composed of around 200 men, is blamed for bombings and other atrocities in the Central Mindanao region. Enditem