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Nation

Ambush triggers hostilities between 2 MILF groups

John Unson - The Philippine Star

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines – The ambush-killing last Thursday of three bodyguards of the second-term mayor of Talitay town here has sparked hostilities between two rival Moro guerrilla groups, sending hundreds of villagers running for their lives.

Local officials said the hostilities between the feuding forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was precipitated by the ambush last Thursday morning of the Toyota pick-up truck of Talitay Mayor Montasir Sabal, which left three of his security escorts dead and two others wounded.

Talitay Vice Mayor Allan Sabal, a senior member of the municipal peace and order council, has tagged members of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, led by Hadji Buisan Haron, in the ambush.

Haron and the Talitay mayor, who is presently on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, are embroiled in a political dispute that began during the campaign period for the May midterm polls.

“They must have assumed that the mayor was also inside the vehicle, which they shot with their assault rifles,” Sabal said.

The vice mayor said relatives of the mayor’s three slain security men, among them active members of the MILF’s 106th Base Command, were to retrieve their bodies from the spot where they were attacked, but Haron and his men opened fire, provoking a running firefight.

“They waited at the scene, poised to really escalate the trouble,” Sabal said.

Von Al-Haq, spokesman of the MILF’s military wing, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, told Catholic radio station dxMS in Cotabato City that they are now trying to resolve the dispute between the two guerrilla groups.

The running firefights between the rival MILF forces forced more than a thousand families to flee their homes.

The conflict between the two MILF groups in Talitay is just one of the dozens of clan wars in Central Mindanao involving active members of the rebel group.

About 90 percent of the hostilities that rocked far-flung areas covered by the 1997 government-MILF general agreement on cessation of hostilities in the past two years, in fact, involved rival rebel factions locked in territorial and political disputes.

BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC ARMED FORCES

BASE COMMAND

CENTRAL MINDANAO

COTABATO CITY

HADJI BUISAN HARON

HARON AND THE TALITAY

MAYOR

MILF

MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT

SABAL

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