200 families flee Cotabato village
DAVAO CITY, Philippines - More than 200 families have fled a village in North Cotabato following a clash Tuesday, October 23, between soldiers and a breakaway rebel group that hurt a member of a government-backed civilian militia.
The clash comes more than two weeks after the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed an initial pact that sets the stage for the setting up of a Bangsamoro region.
But the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFM), which broke away from the MILF, is not heeding the latter's observation of a ceasefire.
Col Prudencio Asto, spokesman of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said a team of Philippine Army, Civilian Active Auxiliary and local police force battled with BIFM forces believed to be led by a certain Kumander Karatuan in Barangay Lower Paatan, Kabacan town, at around 6:30 am Tuesday morning.
The firefight lasted for hours, resulting in the wounding of a civilian armed volunteer identified only as Pissaro.
Local authorities said more than 200 families in the area fled to a nearby evacuation center after the encounter.
Asto said the BIFM fighters withdrew to the area near Liguasan Marsh.
Various sectors have raised concerns on possible attempts by armed groups to disrupt the peace process.
But the International Monitoring Team, which tracks the ceasefire between the government and the MILF, among others, downplayed the capability of armed groups to pose obstacles to the peace negotiations. - Rappler.com
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