Monday, February 25, 2008

Fighting Erupts In Southern RP Province

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 25, 2008) – Troops killed an unidentified gunman in a barrage of mortar fires after security forces foiled an attack early Monday on a military post in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said troops fired on a group of armed men near their post in the village of Baguindan in Ungkaya Pukan town shortly before 3 a.m. An ensuing fire fight killed one gunman, said Army Major Eugene Batara, spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“The armed men were moving towards the position of the troops and stopped them after security forces fired mortar rounds. One enemy was killed,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

There were no reports of military casualties and no group claimed responsibility for the foiled attack, but the area is a known stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim secessionist rebel group currently negotiating peace with Manila.

The MILF did not say whether the slain gunman was a member or not, but rebel forces had previously clashed with government soldiers in the town since last year.

Peace talks between Manila and the MILF was stalled last year after government and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the most contentious issue, the ancestral domain that will comprise the homeland for some 4 million Muslims in the strife-torn, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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