Child soldiers among 53 killed in Philippines offensive

February 01, 2014
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MANILA, Philippines – Three child soldiers recruited by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were among 53 people killed in a five-day military offensive in Mindanao, an official said Friday (January 31st), according to AFP.

Regional spokesman Dickson Hermoso said the offensive resulted in the deaths of 52 rebels, including the children, and one soldier.

"They are employing child soldiers with guns and camouflage uniforms. When we encounter them, we cannot discriminate if they are children or not," he said.

"The armed forces are strongly denouncing (the use of child soldiers) and we have communicated this to the government's Commission on Human Rights," Hermoso added.

The UN special representative on children and armed conflict "continued to receive credible reports that the (BIFF) armed group was actively training and providing weapons to children".

The military offensive came after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) successfully concluded peace talks with government negotiators last week. The BIFF is a small splinter group opposed to the peace effort that has carried out many deadly attacks in a bid to derail it.

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