KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 7, 2009) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Philippines largest Muslim rebel group, accused government troops of firing a mortar round that wounded at least 8 people in North Cotabato province in Mindanao.
Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said the mortar exploded Thursday afternoon near a government school in the village of Macasendeg in Pikit town where children were playing.
He said soldiers deployed in the town fired the mortar to break up fighting between two groups of warring families; one of them has links with the MILF and the other with the army.
“The soldiers sided with one group and that worsened the situation. Instead of initiating peace talks to stop the fighting, the military - as it always did in the past - preferred war over peace and the result - eight people were injured in the mortar fired by soldiers,” Kabalu told the Mindanao Examiner.
The Army’s 6th Infantry Division said the police are already investigating the blast.
“There is a police investigation going on and we cannot say anything more,” said Colonel Jonathan Ponce, the army spokesman.
Manila has resumed peace talks with the MILF after a yearlong fighting killed more than 1,500 soldiers and rebels and displaced more than 600,000 civilians in Mindanao.
The MILF is fighting the past three decades for self-determination. Peace talks collapsed in August last year after the failed signing of the Muslim homeland deal which the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional. (Mindanao Examiner)