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Philippine forces launch air strikes, step up offensive on rebels

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Philippine forces launched air strikes on Monday (September 16) to root out rogue Muslim rebels from a southern city, stepping up efforts to end more than a week of clashes that have killed scores of people. The fighting has been a stark reminder that decades-old grievances fester in the Catholic-majority country despite strong economic growth and an agreement with the biggest Muslim rebel group that was meant to pave the way to peace. The army said at least 62 people have been killed, including 51 of the independence-seeking rebels and five civilians. The fighting, in its eighth day, has been largely in three coastal districts of Zamboanga City on the southern island of Mindanao. About 70,000 residents have been displaced. Soldiers traded mortar and machine-gun fire with the rebels, who are from a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), while two helicopters fired rockets at their positions, an arm

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