Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines accused army troops of strafing their positions Thursday amid warnings of a return to war unless the government drops a murder investigation against their leader.
Tensions between the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the government have been growing since their Malaysian-brokered peace talks stalled in early September and police filed a murder complaint earlier this month against MILF chairman Al Haj Murad over recent bombings.
Early Thursday, military helicopters flew low over MILF positions in the mountains of Lanao del Norte, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) southeast of Manila, and exchanged fire with the rebels, rebel chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal told The Associated Press.
No casualties were reported and the military did not comment immediately.
Iqbal said the MILF would file a protest with a joint cease-fire committee that has been observing a 3-year-old truce.