- Title: PHILIPPINES: FIGHTING CONTINUES BETWEEN GOVERNMENT TROOPS AND MUSLIM REBELS.
- Date: 12th February 2003
- Summary: (W4) COTABATO, PHILIPPINES (FEBRUARY 11, 2003) (REUTERS) 1. GV: PHILIPPINE SOLDIERS FIRING A HOWITZER CANNON 0.06 2. LV/GV: WIDE OF HILLS LOCATION OF MILF (MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT) REBEL CAMP 0.12 3. GV/CU: PHILIPPINE MILITARY STANDING WITH AMMUNITION 2 SHOTS) 0.25 4. GV/CU: PHILIPPINE SOLDIERS FIRING HOWITZERS; CU SMOING GUN (2 SHOTS) 0.37 5. GV: VILLAGERS WATCHING AND COVERING THEIR EARS 0.47 6. GV/CU: VARIOUS OF SOLDIERS FIRING HOWITZERS; VILLAGERS COVERING EARS (2 SHOTS) 1.14 7. CU/GV: (SOUNDBITE) (English) COLONEL CARDOZO LUNA SAYING: "We respect very much the "Hariraya" as they call it, which is today. We are on a defensive position, we are not attacking anyone here. But we were attacked this morning when our soldiers were just having breakfast we were fired upon! Our soldiers who are constructing bridges and roads in the other side at the barangay Butirin, they were attacked and we have to counter attack, we have to neutralise them until they stop doing this." (2 SHOTS) 1.50 8. GV/TRACK: VARIOUS OF VILLAGERS EVACUATING (3 SHOTS) 2.24 9. MCU/GV: EVACUEES CONSTRUCTING MAKESHIFT SHACKS; EVACUEES SEATED (4 SHOTS) 2.59 10. MCU: (SOUNDBITE) (Filipino) 36-YEAR-OLD EVACUEE MONA MASDAN SAYING: "Suddenly the MILF rebels and the soldiers started firing at each other. So we left. We left our villages and homes because we are afraid of getting caught in the crossfire." 3.15 11. CU/GV: EVACUEES COLLECTING WATER AT EVACUATION CENTRE (2 SHOTS) 3.31 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Reuters ID: LVA56XQB4ZVQB2D89AMGVCS6TPUU
- Location: COTABATO, PHILIPPINES
- Country: Philippines
- Duration: 00:03:32
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None
- Story Text: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered
Philippine troops to suspend fighting with Muslim rebels after
at least seven militants were killed in renewed clashes on the
southern island of Mindanao.
Hostilities erupted at dawn on Tuesday (February 11)
around the town of Pikit after the army poured 3,000 soldiers
into the area to confront about 1,000 Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) fighters it said were planning retaliatory
strikes if the United States attacked Iraq.
About 17,000 people fled the town and surrounding villages
to avoid being caught in the fighting.
Defence Secretary Angelo Reyes issued the ceasefire order
on instructions from the presidential palace, Jesus Dureza,
the government's chief peace negotiator with the MILF, told
"Secretary Reyes told me at 1:30 p.m. that he had ordered
the military to halt operations in the meantime," he said.
Dureza said he had advised MILF leaders of Manila's move
and expected the guerrillas to silence their weapons.
A senior official said Arroyo ordered the ceasefire in
deference to an Islamic holiday on Tuesday when Muslims around
the world gather for prayers as part of rites marking the
annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
The MILF, the biggest of several factions fighting for a
Muslim state in the south of mainly Roman Catholic country,
has been accused by intelligence agencies of links to Osama
bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
Dureza told Reuters he was convening a meeting of a
ceasefire panel made up of government and MILF representatives
to try to defuse the situation.
Fighting flared after a large guerrilla group opened fire
on soldiers having breakfast in Pikit, 800 km (500 miles)
south of Manila. Rebel forces attacked four other military
outposts at nearly the same time.
"We respect very much the "Hariraya" as they call it,
which is today. We are on a defensive position, we are not
attacking anyone here. But we were attacked this morning when
our soldiers were just having breakfast we were fired upon!"
said Colonel Cardozo Luna.
Troops launched a counter attack, backed by helicopters
and fighter jets that pounded rebel positions with rockets and
The army suffered five wounded in the clashes that broke
out a day after the military accused the MILF of massing its
forces around Pikit.
A provincial official, who asked not to be identified,
said the military's objective was "to pre-empt any MILF
retaliation if the United States attacks Iraq".
The military said the MILF was backed by members of the
Pentagon kidnap band, which the United States has blacklisted
as a "terrorist organisation".
The early morning clashes followed the killing of three
soldiers on Monday by MILF fighters. Eight members of an army
engineering unit were wounded in the ambush.
Manila has linked an Iraqi diplomat to another Muslim
rebel group, the Abu Sayyaf, over a bomb blast in October that
killed a U.S. solder and two Filipinos in southern Zamboanga
The Iraqi mission rejected the allegation.
The Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap-for-ransom group which preys
mainly on foreigners, is also on the U.S. blacklist.
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- Embargoed:27th February 2003 12:00