Sunday, May 03, 2009

Military accused of human rights violations in Mindanao

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / May 03, 2009) – Philippine Muslim rebels accused government troops of burning houses of civilians and indiscriminate artillery attacks in Mindanao where military offensives entered its second week.

Troops were pursuing Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels in Maguindanao and in nearby province of North Cotabato blamed for the spate of bombings and indiscriminate attacks on civilian and military targets.

MILF forces on Sunday also raided a banana plantation in North Cotabato’s Tulunan town, sparking a fierce firefight between rebels and pro-government militias that left several casualties on both sides.

Peace talks between the MILF and the Arroyo government collapsed last year after the failed signing of the Muslim homeland deal.

But Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said security forces targeted Muslim communities and that attacks were continuing. “Government soldiers were attacking civilian areas and the Muslims have been targets of these attacks. The soldiers burned houses of civilians and shelled Muslim communities in Maguindanao,” he said.

The MILF said dozens of houses were torched by army soldiers in the province and that the government offensives have displaced thousands of people.

Security spokesmen said the offensives targeted MILF leaders Abdurahman Macapaar, Ameril Kato and Sulayman Panglian, who led simultaneous raids in Mindanao last year.

The Army’s 6th Infantry Division denied the MILF’s accusations and said the rebel group was behind the string of attacks that killed many innocent civilians in the restive region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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