Thursday, July 27, 2006

New MILF Fighting Erupts In Maguindanao

ILIGAN CITY (Juan Magtanggol / 27 Jul) Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces clashed Thursday with pro-government militias in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao, a rebel spokesman said.

Eid Kabalu said the fighting erupted after militias attacked a group of MILF soldiers in the village of Balanakan and later spread to the neighboring village of Liong in Datu Piang town.

“The fighting is fierce. There is shelling and the militias are attacking our forces. MILF soldiers are responding to the attacks. We still don’t know if there are casualties on both sides,” he told the Zamboanga Journal.

Military officials were not immediately available to make a statement. But MILF forces previously clashed with militias in the town of Shariff Aguak, also in Maguindanao, that left dozens of people dead and wounded.

The MILF blamed militias loyal to Gov. Andal Ampatuan of Maguindanao for the violence, which they claim was in retaliation for a roadside bombing last month that killed five people. The target of the bombing was allegedly the governor, who escaped unhurt.

Police and military accused the MILF of masterminding the attack and ordered the arrest of two senior rebel leaders Jamil Ombra, commander of the 105th Base Command in Camp Omar and his deputy Sajid Pakiladato. The MILF denied the accusations and refused to surrender the duo.

In February, security and rebel forces clashed for weeks in Shariff Aguak and left more than a dozen people dead from both sides. The fighting erupted after the MILF opposed a provincial government road construction that rebels claimed would encroach into their territories in the village of Datu Unsay.

Kabalu said the latest fighting occurred just as two warring MILF factions agreed to a halt in clashes in Guindulungan town in Maguindanao that killed at least 6 people. He said MILF leaders Talio Macalpan and Kayob Pual were fighting over a piece of an ancestral land.

Police said at least 5 people were wounded in the fighting, including an eight-year old girl, hit by a stray bullet. Supt. Lamala Gunting, the provincial police chief, said Pual also accused the group of Macalpan of ambushing them on July 19.

Kabalu said the MILF ordered the two leaders to stop fighting and peacefully settle their dispute. “There is always a way to resolve every problem. The MILF ordered them to stop fighting and they agreed to a cease-fire,” he said.

The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with the government, is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao.

1 comment:

Muhammad said...

When will this ever ends.