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GMA vows to hunt down killers of marines, but pursue peace talks with rebels

MANILA (AP) - The government will not back out of Malaysian-brokered peace talks with Muslim rebels, the president said Saturday, but she vowed to punish those who recently killed 14 marines.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front admitted its fighters attacked and killed the marines, who they accused of encroaching into a rebel stronghold near southern Basilan island's Tipo Tipo town on Tuesday.

However, the rebels denied beheading 10 of the 14 marines killed. The MILF said it was investigating who carried out the beheadings amid concern the incident could prolong already-stalled talks between the government and the group and spark new fighting.

"We will not allow those who committed barbaric acts to hide under the negotiating table," President Arroyo said in a statement. "Only principled warriors deserve a seat on it."

"We will run after those who killed our marines, but we will not run away from the peace talks," she said.

Arroyo offered condolences to relatives of the marines, whose bodies were to be flown to Manila.

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