Thousands flee as Philippine bombs Moro fighters

Thousands os people fled their homes as Philippines mounted an air and ground assault on a suspected position of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Thousands os people fled their homes as Philippines mounted an air and ground assault on a suspected position of a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), authorities said on Tuesday.

Security forces launched air strikes for the second day on known Moro Muslim places in Zamboanga Sibugay province on the southern island of Mindanao.

The govt troops say hunted down about 100 Muslim “criminals” they accused of kidnappings in the south.

“Our soldiers are encountering heavy resistance on the ground,” Colonel Arnulfo Burgos, army spokesman, told reporters, adding eight people had died, including two soldiers, on Monday.

Four army commandos and an estimated 40 “gunmen” were wounded, Burgos added.

Heavy fighting had forced more than 10,000 people to flee their homes from three farming towns, Adriano Fuego, head of the regional civil defence office, said, appealing for food, water and other supplies.

Fuego added many of the displaced families were staying in schools and government buildings.

Probe?

Meanwhile, MILF asked the International Monitoring Team (IMT) to conduct an independent investigation into Basilan attacks.

Media said that according to MILF chief peace negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, the IMT has agreed to conduct an investigation.

The IMT is lead by Major General Mahdi Binyusof of Malaysia. Other members of the group are representatives from Brunei, Norway, Japan, Libya and the European Union.

Iqbal said that the two representatives from the European Union will determine if human rights violations were committed during clashes last October 18.

He said that the results of the investigation will be presented before the negotiating table at the resumption of talks in Malaysia next month.

The Muslim group said, that Philippines initiated the attack when they entered the MILF’s area of temporary stay (ATS) in Sitio Bakisung, Barangay Cagmun.

It said that under the ceasefire agreement, the government troops should have informed them of the operation before entering their territory. The ATS is an agreed designated area for the MILF to avoid misencounter.

In 2008, nearly 750,000 people were displaced for nearly a year when the army launched offensives against Moro Muslim group who they accused of attacks after the Supreme Court dismissed a signed deal on an ancestral homeland for Muslims.

 

25 October 2011 Tuesday