2 die as MNLF, MILF clash anew in North Cotabato PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 June 2013 17:13

Two members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) were killed when rival Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) attacked a farming village in North Cotabato on Friday, the military here said Saturday.

Captain Antonio Bulao, local Army spokesperson, said the MILF, in a clear violation of a localized truce, attacked the village of Marbel in Matalam town in North Cotabato Friday, killing two unarmed members of the MNLF.

Bulao identified the victims as Toto Manial and Eddie Buisan, who both died on the spot from gunshot wounds in the head and body.

Quoting reports from village officials and Army stationed in Barangay Marbel, Bulao said the victims were returning to their farmlands when armed MILF, led by Commanders Ali Mansur and Commander Salonga of the MILF’s 108th base command, fired at them.

”It was a clear violation of the localized truce by the MILF,” Bulao said of the MILF attack.

The MNLF retaliated and a shooting war ensued. Fighting ceased when the Army fired warning shots from mortars and howitzers.

Bulao stressed that a local peace agreement was forged between the leaders of the MILF and MNLF with participation of the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT) and local government units of North Cotabato.

The agreement calls for the repositioning of MILF reinforcement troops from Barangay Marbel where MNLF and MILF clashed before the May 13 elections.

”They did not reposition their troops, instead they continued harassing civilians identified with the MNLF,” Bulao added.

The MNLF-MILF conflict started on May 5 when the MILF was to hold an advocacy forum for the Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro in Barangay Marbel, a known bailiwick of the MNLF and declared peace zones after the MNLF forged an agreement with the government in 1996.

Datu Dima Ambel, MNLF leader in the area, allowed the MILF to hold the forum as this was for peace but requested the MILF not to wear fatigue uniform or carry guns.

But the MILF came in full battle gear and fatigue uniforms with high powered firearms which insulted the MNLF leader. Skirmishes between two Moro rebel groups ensued, leaving at least three persons killed and three others wounded.

The Army, LGU and IMT came into the picture and normalized the situation with the localized truce but the MILF violated its provisions, the Army said.

Thousands of civilians have been displaced by the on-off skirmishes between the two warring groups.

Both sides declared that the conflict was not organizational but more of a territorial dispute.

Barangay Marbel is a known sugarcane and corn plantation areas recognized by the government as peace zone.