UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — The Philippine military on Sunday, March 11, said it killed 44 Islamic extremist militants.

The military first targeted a group of about 50 militants from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters near Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Mindanao on March 8.

The militants’ number rose to a hundred as the fighting went on for a day, a military spokesperson said.

The BIFF are a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that signed a peace deal with the government in 2014.

Martial law remains in effect in Mindanao, where the government believes militants loyal to the Islamic State group are recruiting for a large-scale attack.

The military reportedly attacked the BIFF fighters with armored vehicles, helicopters and artillery fire.

A military spokesman said eight bodies were recovered.

At least one soldier was wounded.