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Philippine Forces Launch Attacks on Muslim Rebels

Philippine air force warplanes launched a new crackdown on Muslim separatist rebels today, bombing bases in the southern region of Mindinao and killing 60 insurgents, as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo began a state visit to the United States. Today’s attacks against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country’s largest Muslim insurgent group, followed Arroyo’s authorization on Saturday for air and artillery strikes against “embedded terrorist cells” in Mindinao. The government has been grappling with rebel violence there, including a series of recent bombings, as the MILF pursues its decades-long campaign for an independent Islamic state in the south. Arroyo, who backed President Bush in the war in Iraq, arrived in Los Angeles Saturday on the first leg of the eight-day visit. Bush will welcome her to the White House for a meeting Monday, and she will be the guest of honor at a state dinner Monday night. The Philippine leader, also a supporter of the U.S.-led war on terror, hopes to receive more military aid from Washington and plans to discuss a counterterrorism exercise with U.S. and Philippine troops to be held in the southern Philippines later this year. Full Story

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