6 soldiers killed, MILF says in new fighting in Maguindanao
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said two of its fighters were also wounded in the hostilities that erupted in the farming village of Tatapan in
Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in the restive Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao.
"Six soldiers were killed and MILF fighters also destroyed an armored personnel carrier in the fighting that lasted several hours," said Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader.
The fighting erupted a day after rebels bombed a power pylon in Lanao del Norte's Kauswagan town and cutting electricity in many parts of Western Mindanao, including Zamboanga City.
Kabalu also accused the military of arresting nine Muslim villagers on Friday and tortured them on suspicion they were MILF sympathizers. They were later released near Shariff Kabunsuan province, he said.
The military denied all the MILF reports and branded them propaganda.
"There is no truth to the reports of Eid Kabalu that six soldiers were killed. There were fighting alright, but we have no casualties. There could be MILF killed," said Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the Army's 6th Infantry Division.
He also denied the reported torture of civilians. "Soldiers are professionals and we always uphold human rights," Ando said.
The MILF is the country's largest Muslim rebel group which is fighting the past decades for self-determination.
Peace talks between the MILF and Manila collapsed in August after rebels launched a series of deadly attacks over in North Cotabato, Sarangani and
Lanao del Norte provinces in Mindanao over the failed signing of a Muslim
homeland deal between the two sides. - Al Jacinto, GMANews.TV http://www.gmanews.tv/story/143689/6-soldiers-killed-MILF-says-in-new-fighting-in-Maguindanao
Reds vow attacks on RP-US war games
LUCENA CITY – The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has ordered its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), to attack American and Filipino military forces when they hold joint exercises in the Bicol region in April.
"NPA units in Bicol are specifically instructed to launch as many tactical offensives as they can in many areas of the region in mockery of the Balikatan [Shoulder to Shoulder] exercises and to prevent the US military from strengthening its foothold in the region," the CPP said in a statement sent to Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday.
This year’s Balikatan exercises are set to be held in the provinces of Albay, Masbate, and Sorsogon. The 2008 edition of the annual exercise was held in Mindanao and Central Luzon.
The CPP also urged the public to mount protests against the annual war games, which they said smacked of US intervention in Philippine affairs.
"In doing so, the US seeks to pave the way for the future regular access of US troops in guerrilla fronts in the Bicol region where the New People's Army (NPA) operates," the CPP said.
The rebels also claimed that several sightings of US spy planes across the country showed that American troops have become “increasingly active” in local military operations, a violation of the Constitution.
Some 400 American doctors, engineers and nurses, predominantly belonging to the military, will join the month-long exercises to provide humanitarian aid to depressed areas in the three Bicol provinces, said Kelly Schmader, commander of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment.
Schmader visited the Bicol region last week to see to the final stages of surveying and planning for the scheduled Balikatan.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has given security forces until the end of her term in 2010 to defeat the NPA, the roughly 5,000-strong armed wing of the CPP that has been waging a Maoist guerilla campaign from the country side for 40 years. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/regions/view_article.php?article_id=182719