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Thousands flee fighting between rebel factions in southern Philippines


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Thousands flee fighting between rebel factions in southern Philippines

2011-08-15 03:11:56 GMT+7 (ICT)

MANILA (BNO NEWS) -- Fighting between two rebel factions has forced at least 3,600 civilians to flee their communities in the southern Philippines, authorities said on Sunday.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said the situation in Central Mindanao remains critical as troops of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (<deleted>) and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIIF) continue to engage in skirmishes. The <deleted> was earlier reported to have ordered commander Adzmie Kasim, whose group has been fighting with the BIFF under commander Abunawas, to hold their fire and take a defensive posture, according to the Manila Bulletin.

The OCD said at least 652 families or some 3,600 people have been forced to flee their homes since the sporadic fighting started last week to avoid being caught in the crossfire. The military earlier said the fighting has left at least 23 people killed from both sides.

The conflict between the <deleted>'s military arm, the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, and the BIFF was caused by a land dispute between Abunawas and Kasim. The feud, however, has now heightened into an organizational conflict between the warring rebel factions.

The government, however, expressed alarm over the clash. Brigadier General Ariel Bernardo, head of a military panel engaged in talks with the <deleted>, said this might affect the peace talks if there is no immediate end to the fighting.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III and <deleted> chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim held a meeting in Tokyo, Japan, in an attempt to speed up the peace talks. The <deleted> entered into peace negotiations with the government in 1997, but despite a ceasefire agreement, the southern Philippines continues to see violence.

The <deleted> has been fighting against the Government of the Philippines since 1977 for the establishment of an independent Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-15

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