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97 MILF Rebels Surrender Amid Massive Assault

Six Muslim separatist field commanders and 91 guerrillas have surrendered to the Armed Forces amid punitive strikes launched by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the southern Philippines, a presidential aide said Thursday. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) men turned themselves in to the military in the southern city of Iligan on Monday, said Rocky Nazareno, a presidential aide who was sent here to monitor the military offensive. “The rebels also surrendered 82 various firearms,” Nazareno said. “They wanted to turn a new leaf because life in the mountains is harsh,” said military southern command spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Renoir Pascua. “They were also pressured amid a massive military pursuit,” Pascua said. The 12,500-strong MILF is the country’s main secessionist insurgent force which the government blames for a spate of bombings and raids that have left about 100 dead since March. Before departing for a state visit to the United States last weekend, Arroyo ordered the military to carry out artillery attacks and air assaults in areas in the south where alleged MILF-linked terrorist cells were operating. Full Story

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