COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 27, 2008) – At least 15 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels were killed in fierce gun battle Monday in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a regional army spokesman, confirmed the fighting and said many rebels were killed and wounded in the skirmishes in the village of Diate in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.
He said one soldier was killed and four others wounded in the fighting.“Reports on the ground indicated heavy casualties on the rebel side,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.
But other military sources said as many as 15 rebels were slain and dozens more wounded in the clashes.
The MILF has said that fighting was raging in Maguindanao and other provinces nearby.
Authorities captured on Monday a senior MILF commander, Macaslang Angni, who was wounded in a gun battle over the weekend in Lanao del Sur province, where fighting also erupted Sunday.
He was captured in the town of Bacolod in the neighboring province of Lanao del Norte.
Angni was rushed to hospital under police escorts because of his wounds after being shot by soldiers in the leg and shoulder, according to a statement released by the Lanao del Norte provincial government.
It was unknown how the 64-year old Angni was captured, but provincial authorities said the rebel leader is considered one of the most wanted criminals in Lanao del Norte.
The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group which is fighting for self-determination the past three decades.
Peace talks between Manila and the MILF collapsed last month after MILF forces launched a series of deadly attacks against civilian targets in Mindanao over the failed signing of territorial land deal in August. (Mindanao Examiner)