2 Soldiers Hurt In Southern RP Attack

January 15, 2008 at 5:14 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 15, 2008) – Unidentified gunmen attacked before sunrise Tuesday a Philippines army post wounding two soldiers in the strife-torn southern province of Maguindanao, officials said.

Officials said the attackers fired several rounds of rocket-propelled grenades on the post occupied by the 64th Infantry Battalion in the village of Bagan in Guindolongan town.

“The sporadic attack lasted almost an hour and two soldiers are wounded,” Army Lt. Col. Julieto Ando, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division, told the Mindanao Examiner newspaper.

The post, he said, serves as a security base to protect the highway connecting the province to General Santos City. It was unknown whether any of the gunmen were killed in the fighting that subsequently erupted.

And Ando said at least 15 gunmen were involved in the attack. No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the town is a known stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the country’s largest Muslim rebel group.

But aside from the MILF, the province is also lairs to private armies of politicians and the MILF blamed them for the attack on the military post. “This is a scenario by politicians opposed to the peace talks and the MILF has nothing to do with the attack,” Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said in a separate interview, but he did not elaborate.

Maguindanao was the scene of previous fighting between rebel and military forces and hostilities also broke out in the past between MILF and armed followers of Andal Ampatuan, the provincial governor.

Peace talks were stalled last month after government and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the scope of the ancestral domain, which is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.
The ancestral domain which covers the whole of Muslim autonomous region and other areas in Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces where there are large communities of Muslims and indigenous tribes. And even Palawan Island in central Philippines and the Sulu Archipelago.
President Arroyo has opened up peace talks with the MILF in 2001, but since then no substantial agreements have been signed between the two sides, expect for the cease-fire accord. (With a report from Mark Navales)

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