Thursday, September 15, 2011
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 15, 2011) – At least for gunmen were killed in fierce clashes between two Muslim rebel factions in Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines, authorities said Thursday.
The fighting erupted in Maguindanao’s Datu Piang town between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and its breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement headed by Ameril Umra Kato.
It was unknown what triggered the fighting, but followers of both groups had previously fought over a piece of ancestral land in Maguindanao, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
At least five gunmen were also reported wounded from both sides. Kato’s group suffered two casualties and it was not immediately known if the renegade commander himself led the fighting.
The MILF has in the past tried to win back Kato’s loyalty, but he was disgruntled with the leadership of Murad Ebrahim, whom he accused of abandoning their struggle for an independent state in Mindanao and opted to negotiate with Manila for a Muslim sub-state in the mineral-rich, but strife-torn southern region.
Kato has said that his group would pursue an independent Islamic homeland and called on his tribe to oppose ongoing peace talks between the Aquino government and MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group. (Mindanao Examiner)