Philippine military says 54 Muslim rebels killed in south 
Philippine troops

MANILA, Philippines:  Philippine officials say days of intense military operations have killed 54 Muslim militants from a largely unknown group that authorities say have ties with Islamic extremists from Indonesia and have carried out beheadings apparently influenced by the Islamic State group.

Maj. Filemon Tan, a regional military spokesman, said operations that started Thursday in southern Lanao del Sur province against the Maute group are still underway. Two soldiers have been killed and nine wounded.

Tan says air strikes were also used to find those behind the beheadings last month of two kidnapped sawmill workers. The workers were made to wear orange gowns before they were killed, like victims of the IS group.

The military says the death count is based on intelligence reports. It cannot be independently confirmed.

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