Thousands displaced by clashes in Maguindanao-A A +A
Thursday, August 9, 2012
MANILA -- Over 25,000 civilians have been displaced by fighting between government security forces and members of a Moro rebel group in Maguindanao, a government report said Thursday.
The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said 11,480 people from 15 affected barangays are now in evacuation centers while the remaining 14,170 might have found other shelters elsewhere.
Before midnight on August 5, Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM) fighters staged simultaneous attacks in four Maguindanao towns. The armed group also attacked eight bases or detachments of the military.
The attack was followed by skirmishes between government troops and BIFM forces that have killed four soldiers and four rebels while injuring three other militiamen.
There was also fire incidents recorded that involved 22 houses.
Governor Mujiv Hataman meanwhile dismissed rumors spreading on the internet that conflicts in the southern region have broken into a war.
"There is no truth to the information circulating on Twitter, Facebook and social media, which allege that war has allegedly broken out in Mindanao," Hataman said in a statement posted on the official Facebook page of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.
While ARMM official confirmed other BIFM attacks on military installations, he said that most of these "have already been contained by our armed forces."
Hataman said the attack on a military convoy in Marawi City on Wednesday night is a "handiwork of syndicates."
The 200-strong BIFM, formed by commander Ustadz Ameril Umbra Kato, broke off last year from the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and is considered a lawless group.
The splinter group has opposed the ongoing peace negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF and vowed to continue fighting for an independent homeland for minority Muslims in the south.
BIMF is not covered by the ceasefire agreement between the government and the MILF. Both parties have slammed the recent attacks of the breakaway rebel group.
"Clearly, this group of Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato are one of the few that are willing to go at lengths to deny our communities and our peoples the benefit of a just and lasting peaceful settlement to our armed conflicts," government peace panel chair Marvic Leonen on Wednesday during the resumption of the formal peace talks in Malaysia. (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)