RealNews

Manila to Take US Military Exercises to Rebel Territory

In a clear break from its earlier position, the Philippine government has agreed to expand joint military exercises between Philippine and American troops to include strongholds of Muslim separatist guerillas. Defence Secretary Angelo Reyes said both countries have agreed to include the towns of Pikit in North Cotabato province and Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte province – known lairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest separatist group – in war games. ‘This is the only thing which has been agreed upon so far,’ he said. ‘We have yet to determine the date and how large the respective contingent forces will be.’ At least 28 people, mostly civilians, were killed and dozens wounded when some 200 MILF rebels raided the mining town of Siocon on Sunday, seizing hostages and torching the public market and nearby houses. Clashes with government troops in Pikit have also forced more than 100,000 residents to flee to refugee centres since March. Full Story

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