"The residents of the towns were not all evacuated but only those in far-flung areas. We asked them to take shelter because they might be used as human shields," Maj. Dante Gania, the public affairs officer of the Army's 6th Infantry Division, said.
The fighting in the region began Sunday, when government forces served arrest warrants to Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.net reported.
The fighting has killed 17 rebels and two soldiers have sustained injuries, Gania said.
Celebrity Couples of 2014 [PHOTOS]