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Talks with MILF to resume after elections

by AJLPP Friday, Apr. 27, 2007 at 9:15 PM
magsasakapil@hotmail.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Bvld. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Stalled peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are to resume after the May 14 elections. Both sides have agreed to work toward a resumption of the talks, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement Thursday. ---BACKED by howitzer and mortar fire, elite Army troops on Thursday seized a makeshift camp of the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu where nearly 100 Abu Sayyaf extremists were believed to be hiding.

Talks with MILF to resume after elections



Manila--Stalled peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are to resume after the May 14 elections.

Both sides have agreed to work toward a resumption of the talks, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said in a statement Thursday.

The 12,000-strong MILF late last year said the talks were on the brink of collapse over its demands for economic control of ancestral lands in Mindanao.

MILF chief Murad Ebrahim in March blamed “hawkish” elements within the military for allegedly trying to sabotage the talks, which are aimed at reaching a political solution to the MILF’s 29-year insurgency.

He said his forces were on the defensive and would only step up the war if provoked by troops.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu on Thursday said “backdoor negotiations” were continuing, adding that the group was also optimistic the talks would resume in May.

“We hope to get the talks restarted after the election,” he said. “By that time, hopefully there would be less distractions.”

Kabalu said MILF forces would help ensure elections in Muslim Mindanao would be peaceful.

“We will patrol in some areas and make sure there is no violence,” he said. “We have already coordinated with the military through the government’s peace monitors.”

The MILF has been waging a rebellion for an independent Islamic state in Mindanao since 1978. Tens of thousands have died in the conflict, which has also held back growth in the country’s south.

--AFP and Sam Mediavilla



********************

Troops bombard MNLF camp

Manila---BACKED by howitzer and mortar fire, elite Army troops on Thursday seized a makeshift camp of the Moro National Liberation Front in Sulu where nearly 100 Abu Sayyaf extremists were believed to be hiding.

The camp in Indanan, however, was empty, but the military said it was another proof that certain MNLF factions have been harboring the extremists.

The Armed Forces spokesman, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, said at a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo the attack on the camp, which he said was a stronghold of MNLF Commander Khaid Ajibon, was directed against the Abu Sayyaf and not the MNLF.

The siege on the camp, located on Mt. Tumatangis in Barangay Marang, started Wednesday afternoon when troops fired several mortar and howitzer rounds at it.

Troops from 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion and Special Forces then moved in, Bacarro said.

The troops were after the group of Radullan Sahiron, Doctor Abu and Al Bader Parad who were blamed for the beheading of seven construction civilians in Sulu last week.

Brig. Gen. Ruperto Pabustan, chief of the military’s Joint Special Operations Task Force, said there were no casualties on either side.

The hunt for the Abu Sayyaf and foreign Islamic militants has become complicated after rogue MNLF commander, Ustadz Habier Malik attacked government positions about two weeks ago.

The attack on the Panamao town hall and marine detachment violates the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF, military officials said.

The military quickly responded by overrunning two of Malik’s camp, including his main redoubt in Bitan-Ag where he briefly held a marine general and a group of peace negotiators in February.



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