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Sunday, Jul. 09, 2006 at 4:55 AM
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Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan has ordered militiamen involved in clashes with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels to stand down and pull out, a Malacañang official said yesterday. Jesus Dureza, national security adviser, said the order has brought back calm to Shariff Aguak and four other towns affected by the clashes that started on June 28. More than 20,000 people were displaced because of the skirmishes, which civilian officials said killed at least seven members of the Civilian Volunteers’ Organization (CVO) and three MILF rebels.
Maguindanao gov withdraws militiamen from 5 towns
By Jeoffrey Maitem
Last updated 00:54am (Mla time) 07/08/2006
Published on Page A17 of the July 8, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
COTABATO CITY—Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan has ordered militiamen involved in clashes with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels to stand down and pull out, a Malacañang official said yesterday.
Jesus Dureza, national security adviser, said the order has brought back calm to Shariff Aguak and four other towns affected by the clashes that started on June 28.
More than 20,000 people were displaced because of the skirmishes, which civilian officials said killed at least seven members of the Civilian Volunteers’ Organization (CVO) and three MILF rebels.
The MILF admitted it lost three guerrillas but placed the CVO casualty at more than 30.
Dureza went to Shariff Aguak on Thursday on orders of President Macapagal-Arroyo and met with Ampatuan and MILF representatives.
“A declaration of no offensive movement was agreed. It means, there will be no more movement of troops from both sides...,” Dureza told the Inquirer.
Dureza said he also met with mayors supportive of the offensive against the MILF and asked them to let the military handle the peacekeeping task.
“It’s now quiet in the area,” he said.
The clashes started when militiamen tried to serve warrants against two MILF leaders blamed for the June 23 roadside bomb attack that killed at least seven people in Shariff Aguak.
Police and the Ampatuans said the explosion was aimed at the Maguindanao governor, who has escaped several previous attempts on his life.
But an unidentified suspect lobbed a grenade inside a house owned by the governor here 8 a.m. yesterday.
Senior Insp. Samson Obatay, spokesperson of the city police, said the grenade failed to explode, though.
It was not clear if Ampatuan was in the house during the attack.
But Autonomous Region Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, a son of the Maguindanao governor, said the failed grenade attack was the latest attempt to kill his father.
Dureza said that aside from ordering the withdrawal of the CVOs, the Maguindanao governor also agreed to let the ceasefire committee handle the serving of the warrants against MILF commanders Sajid Pakiladato, Jamil Ombra and four other people linked to the June 23 explosion.
The US Embassy in Manila has asked for an end to hostilities.
“Any damage to home and community by fighting is tragic and it’s important that the fighting be stopped as soon as possible. We support efforts by government and all concerned parties to end the hostilities,” Matthew Lussenhop, US Embassy press attaché, told the Inquirer by phone.
Lussenhop said it was important for the government and the MILF to return to the negotiating table.
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