MILF wary of military presence in Basilan


ZAMBOANGA CITY: Muslim rebels engaged in peace talks with Manila on Thursday warned that the presence of military forces near their camps could spark fighting in the southern island of Basilan.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said more government soldiers have been spotted near rebel camps in the hinterlands of Tipo-Tipo and Al-Barka towns, scenes of previous clashes between guerrilla and security forces.

Both areas are also known strongholds of the MILF, the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for independence in southern Philippines. Some 500 marines are also on their way to Basilan from Manila and expected to arrive this week to augment thousands already deployed on the island, where rebels and soldiers clashed last week.

“The presence of government soldiers near MILF areas is a provocative act and could spark clashes if troops encroach in our places,” said Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator.

He said the military failed to coordinate the movement of the soldiers, which is a violation of the truce agreement.
— Al Jacinto(ManilaTimes)

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