RealNews

Manila Thwarts Rebel Assault

The Philippines military used helicopter gunships and attack planes to thwart a bid by over a thousand insurgents to recapture a former stronghold in the southern Philippines, the regional military chief said today. The hijacking of a bus and hostage-taking of some 50 passengers by the rebels in Pikit town in North Cotabato province yesterday was part of a diversionary tactic for the initial assault by the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Lieutenant-General Narciso Abaya said. Although the bus passengers were soon freed, a soldier on the bus and a government militiaman who tried to stop the rebels were killed. Abaya said MILF guerillas attacked military forces occupying their fallen enclave, called the “Buliok complex”, in the outskirts of Pikit yesterday. Abaya said he deployed attack planes and helicopter gunships to disperse the MILF formations, halting the offensive. He said there were no casualties on the government side but he did not know if there were any dead on the MILF side. However MILF sources said two soldiers were killed. The military captured the Buliok complex in February after the Government accused the rebels of sheltering kidnappers, terrorists and criminals in the area. Full Story

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