Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gunmen attack police post in North Cotabato, 3 wounded

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 23, 2009) – Three people were wounded, including two policemen, after unidentified gunmen attacked a police post in the southern Philippines, an army spokesman said Sunday.

Colonel Jonathan Ponce, of the 6th Infantry Division, said about 10 gunmen attacked the police post in the village of Patadon in North Cotabato’s Matalam town late Saturday.

“The community police assistance center was harassed by ten armed men that resulted to the wounding of two policemen and a civilian truck driver who was just passing the area,” Ponce said.

Ponce did not identify the attackers, but suggested the attack could have been carried out by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

“The 6th Infantry Division strictly adheres with the suspension of military offensives and is committed to the primacy of the resumption of the peace talks (with the MILF),” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The MILF has denied any involvement in the attack and said former Moro National Liberation Front rebels could be behind the raid. It said the attackers fired at least four rounds of anti-tank rockets towards the village.

“The MILF has nothing to do with the attack. There is a feud between MNLF and other families in the town that all stemmed from land conflict,” Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said in a separate interview.

Kabalu said prior to the attack, MNLF rebels in Matalam town had asked local MILF commanders for rocket-propelled grenades, but failed to get anti-tank rockets.

“MNLF forces had asked for rocket-propelled grenades from local MILF leaders, but was flatly rejected by our commanders and we received reports that the attackers fired at least four rounds of RPG on the village,” he said.

The MNLF signed a peace deal with Manila in September 1996, ending decades of bloody war. After the peace agreement was signed, Nur Misuari, the MNLF chieftain, became the governor of the five-province Muslim autonomous region. But despite the peace accord, there was a widespread disillusionment with the weak autonomy they were granted.

Under the peace accord, the government would have to provide a mini-Marshal Plan to spur economic development in the Muslim autonomous region and livelihood and housing assistance to tens of thousands of former rebels to uplift their poor living standards.

While the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for self-determination, is currently negotiating peace with the Arroyo government since 2001. (With a report from Geo Solmerano)

No comments: