2 hurt as MNLF, MILF clash anew

KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were wounded after they engaged anew in a running gun battle with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a remote village in Matalam, North Cotabato at around 6:20 a.m., Thursday, a military official said.

Captain Antonio Bulao, spokesman for the Army's 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said the wounded MILF rebels were immediately rushed for treatment at the Cotabato Provincial Hospital at Amas Complex, this city.

It was the soldiers that helped the victims get immediate medical attention after they sought help from the Army, according to Bulao.
The fresh encounters occurred, three days after the warring Moro rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire.

The dialogue held last Sunday at Barangay Marbel in Matalam town was spearheaded by members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the GPH-MILF, according to Senior Inspector Elias Dandan, chief of the Matalam Police Station.

Dandan said during the meeting, Commander Datu Dima Ambil of the MNLF Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee has assured both the IMT and the CCCH they would actively take part in Monday’s elections, which they actually did.

"In fact, majority of the 200 displaced families were able to cast votes on Monday," said Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, commander of the Army’s 602nd Brigade.

Three days later, the warring groups were locked again in armed fighting, which resulted to the wounding of two MILF members and renewed wave of displacement, according to Capt. Bulao.

On Thursday, Tomaro ordered deployment of additional forces in areas where vital installations, including power, are located to secure them from any of the armed Moro rebel groups.

The Army official said that based on their monitoring, armed men were sighted near the main headquarters of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) in Barangay Manubuan, Matalam, just few kilometers away from the encounter site. (MCM)

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