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Filipino Forces Fight Al-Qaeda Linked Militants

From a shocked Associated Press:

Armed Islamic separatist rebels belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) patrol Ginanta village in southern Basilan island, October 2007.

Filipino marines battle Muslim militants

Sun, May 25, 2008

Two Muslim rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf, attacked a military outpost and a convoy of troops Sunday in the southern Philippines, sparking a clash that killed two guerrillas and wounded 10 marines, the military said.

The fighting between the marines and the combined forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf broke out after dawn on southern Basilan island, forcing villagers to flee, according to the military and the rebels.

Both sides blamed each other for starting the fighting, which erupted during a withdrawal of Malaysian peacekeepers who have helped stop such violence in the past.

Philippine marines commandant Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said an unknown number of MILF and Abu Sayyaf guerrillas attacked a marine detachment in Basilan’s remote Ungkaya Pukan township at day break, sparking a gunbattle. There were no immediate reports of casualties in that clash.

Marine reinforcements aboard an armored carrier and trucks were later ambushed by the rebels, setting off a clash that killed two rebels and wounded 10 marines. The armored carrier was damaged by a rebel land mine, Dolorfino said.

Government troops were pursuing the attackers and helicopter gunships were on standby in case the conflict escalates. The MILF-led attack violated a cease-fire, he said.

This is definitely a cease-fire violation, and we will protest,” Dolorfino told The Associated Press.

Mohagher Iqbal, a MILF leader, said the marine forces advanced threateningly toward a rebel stronghold, triggering a gunbattle that killed at least one rebel and inflicted casualties among the marines. A marine tank and a truck were destroyed in the fighting, he said.

Iqbal denied that his forces were backed by Abu Sayyaf militants.

The MILF, which fights for Muslim self-rule in the south, always denies any link with Abu Sayyaf, a smaller but more brutal group linked to al-Qaida and blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist group for ransom kidnappings, bombings and beheadings.

But the Philippine military and police say they have intelligence indicating tactical alliances between the two groups, which are both active on predominantly Muslim Basilan island.

Malaysia has been brokering peace talks between Manila and the MILF, which has about 11,000 fighters. The talks stalled last year when the guerrillas protested the government’s insistence that any accord should conform with the Philippine constitution.

Disappointed with the monthslong impasse, Malaysia early this month started withdrawing dozens of its monitors that form the bulk of a foreign contingent safeguarding a 2003 cease-fire. The monitors have been credited with curbing clashes in the south.

Malaysian officials have pledged to continue brokering the talks.

You see how much good placating these people does.

Of course none of this would be happening if the US were not in the Middle East, and Israel no longer existed, and…

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 25th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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