Hundreds of terrified families fled in the southern Philippines as fighting between government security forces and Muslim rebels erupted, an Army official said on Sunday.
Lt. Col. Domingo Gobway, a battalion commander, said militias and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front clashed on Saturday afternoon in the town of Pikit in North Cotabato.
The fierce gun battle lasted for five hours, prompting civilians, about 500 families, fled their homes in the village of Macabual for fear of their safety.
Gobway said no one was reportedly hurt or killed on the government side.
The fighting occurred as peace talks between Manila and MILF rebels remained stalled.
The MILF has been fighting government troops for decades in a bid to establish a self-rule Muslim state in the south of the predominantly Catholic country.
In 2008, the Philippines’ Govt authorised the modification of the Constitution to grant MILF what they wanted. But the modification was stopped due to heavy opposition from citizens who didn’t want that constitutional change to be made.