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National

MILF says MNLF joins fray on side of BIFM

MILF fighters (file photo)

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Units of the Moro National Liberation Front have joined the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement as it continues to mount attacks on government forces in Central Mindanao, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said.

The claim of the MILF, the main rebel group from which the BIFM broke away last year, was bolstered by Major General Rey Ardo, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, who said in a phone interview that they, too, have received intelligence reports that MNLF units have joined the fray.

The area of hostilities has spread since fighters of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the armed wing of the BIFM, staged simultaneous attacks on military outposts in Maguindanao province early this month.

The latest incident was the attack on a military detachment in Pikit, North Cotabato in which the BIFF was reportedly supported by MNLF fighters. A civilian died and three soldiers were wounded.

In an editorial published on its website, www.luwaran.com, the MILF urged the MNLF to back off out of respect for its ongoing peace talks with the government.

The MNLF signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.

The MILF itself was a breakaway faction of the MNLF.

The MILF editorial said it had learned that “several prominent names” in the MNLF are involved in the current hostilities “but, out of respect, we will not mention them here.”

“Now, it is the MILF talking to the government. Out of reciprocity, we expect the same treatment from our brothers in the MNLF, as what we did to them when they talked to the government. If they cannot support us, at least, they should not stand (in) the way,” the editorial said as it invited the MNLF to dialogue and “let us know your gripes against us, if any.”

Ardo also urged the MNLF “to abide with the 1996 peace agreement.”

He warned that the MNLF “may lose esteem” before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, formerly known as the Organization of Islamic Conference, which had supported its negotiations with the government and is doing the same for the MILF.

Ardo said since the BIFF launched attacks on August 5, it has lost at least 60 dead while the government has suffered 10 casualties.

The military has also claimed to have captured four BIFF camps.