Thursday, December 25, 2008

7 killed in rebel attacks in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Dec. 25, 2008) – At least seven civilians were killed and nine others wounded in a series of rebel attacks in the southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said soldiers also disarmed Thursday an improvised bomb planted on a bridge in the town of Datu Unsay in Maguindanao province, a day after Moro Islamic Liberation Front gunmen attacked military and police posts in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan and North Cotabato.

Three civilians were also seized by rebels on a farming village in Pickawayan town in North Cotabato province.

“There have been an increase in MILF attacks the past 24 hours and already seven civilians were killed and nine others wounded,” said Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

He said the rebels launched attacks on government detachments in the provinces, sparking sporadic clashes, but there were no reports of military or police casualties.

“Seven people were killed, all of them civilians, and nine others wounded in the attacks plus three more abducted by rebels,” Ando said.

He said rebel forces fired small rockets and automatic weapons in attacking army and police posts. “There were no provocations on our part and the rebels attacked our positions,” he said.

The MILF said one of its fighters was killed in the fighting in North Cotabato’s Aleosan town after rebels clashed with pro-government militias who grabbed their lands.

“The fighting was triggered by old conflict between rebels and militias. This is land conflict and the militias grabbed the lands of owned by rebels and their families,” said Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader.

Kabalu also denied that rebels targeted civilians in the provinces. “They may have been shot by soldiers and militias on suspicion they were MILF members,” he said.

The MILF is fighting for the establishment of a separate homeland for more than four million Muslims in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: