RealNews

Rebels Killed in Philippines

At least 16 Muslim separatists from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have been killed in air strikes by the military in the southern Philippines, rebel and army spokesmen said. Army officials said the raids, which took place took place on the island of Mindanao, were carried out to prevent the rebels regaining territory around the town of Pikit, which was captured by the army last month. The renewed fighting came as President Gloria Arroyo sent a special envoy to meet Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the hope of restarting peace talks with the rebels. The envoy, ex-foreign secretary Roberto Romulo, is expected to discuss Malaysia’s offer to act as host for the talks. On Wednesday President Arroyo confirmed that fighting had restarted in the Buliok enclave, near the town of Pikit. The MILF rebels were forced from the area last month, when the government launched a military offensive after accusing the rebels of harbouring terrorists. Army chief Lieutenant-General Narciso Abaya said on Wednesday that the rebels had blasted the area with mortar and rocket fire, but were repulsed by helicopter gunships and attack planes. President Arroyo asked the MILF rebels to renounce what she described as “terrorism”. Full Story

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