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Philippines gives Muslim rebels deadline to end attacks

Philippines President Gloria Arroyo gave Muslim separatists a June 1 ultimatum to end attacks on civilians and cut links with terror groups, or be treated as terrorists themselves. The warning brought the government closer to ending its bid for a political settlement to a 25-year Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebellion in Mindanao, the southern third of the mainly Roman Catholic Southeast Asian islands. “The government is nearing a decision point on whether to declare the MILF a terrorist organization, and to take the necessary operational and diplomatic measures to strenghten this prospective policy,” Arroyo said in a written statement. Manila would decide after an Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) meeting in Iran by month’s end she said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the security of our civilian communities is our utmost concern. Punitive actions will continue and peace talks remain suspended. We will treat those who attack civilians as plain terrorists.” Full Story

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