MILF attacks towns but peace talks continue.

This is from Malaya.
Many in the MILF are upset over the pace of the peace process and also by concerns that the agreement will be rendered null and void by the courts. Apparently these attacks were not authorised by the central command of MILF. I have posted another article from a Davao (Mindanao) that maintains talks are still ongoing.


MILF attacks Iligan,4 towns in Lanao Norte26 killed; AFP orders offensive
BY VICTOR REYES
MORO Islamic Liberation Front rebels occupied a town in Lanao del Norte and attacked three other towns in the province and Iligan City yesterday, prompting the military leadership to order another round of offensives.
As of press time, three soldiers and 23 civilians were reported to have died from the rebel attacks in parts of Kolambugan, Linamon, Maigo, and Kauswagan towns and Iligan City.
Some of the civilian fatalities were used by the rebels as human shields while they were withdrawing.
"The rebels killed them on their way out. That is the report given to us by the civilians," said Brig. Gen. Hilario Atendido, head of the AFP Task Force Tabak which is in charge of the Lanao provinces.
He said most of the civilian casualties were from the Kolambugan and Linamon. He said some of the civilian fatalities were hostages taken by the MILF during the Kolambugan attack.
The attacks followed those in Lanao del Norte Sunday that left four soldiers and four militiamen dead.
Also on Sunday in Iligan City, suspected MILF rebels detonated two bombs at two budget hotels, wounding three persons.
AFP chief Gen. Alexander Yano said the attacks are a "virtual declaration of war" by the MILF and "a clear manifestation of the insincerity to the peace process of a significant portion of the MILF."
"This was confirmed by Commander Bravo's declaration of jihad (holy war)," he said referring to the leader of the MILF forces that attacked Iligan City and the four towns.
"It appears that several MILF sub-commanders are not controlled by the MILF leadership and are just using the peace process as a blanket to launch violent attacks against the people of Mindanao," he also said.
MILF forces under Commander Umbra Kato last month forcibly occupied 15 barangays in North Cotabato. They were flushed out of the areas last week in four days of military offensives. The Maguindanao-based Kato reportedly had 500 to 800 men.
Atendido said about 500 rebels occupied Kolambugan and some 300 to 500 attacked Kauswagan.
Kolambugan was cleared around noon. Troops repulsed the attackers in Kauswagan.
MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the rebels actually pulled out of Kolambugan on the order of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the armed wing of the MILF.
"There is already a pullout upon command, upon orders of the leadership of the BIAF, MILF after several hours of trying to get in touch there (with fighters in Lanao). Apparently, they were reached because the command is for them to pull out from the area. Right now, the area is clear," he said.
Kabalu said rebels occupied the town because of frustration over the slow progress of the peace process and because of agitations by some quarters that a peace accord with the MILF would not be fully implemented by the government.
Kabalu said the actions of the MILF fighters were not authorized by the MILF leadership.
HUMAN SHIELDS
Atendido said the rebels attacked Kolambugan town around 4:30 a.m.
"They held hostage the whole town but we could not enter because the civilians were being used as human shields," he said. "Some of people were tied."
The rebels brought with them a number of hostages as they withdrew.
"They pulled out already of the area. They let go of the children and the women but took with them the adult men," he said.
The rebels also attempted to blow up two bridges leading to Kolambugan to prevent government reinforcements. "But they were not able to do it," he said.
Atendido said the rebels could not stay long because troops had been pre-positioned in the area.
MORE ATROCITIES
In Kauswagan, he said soldiers repelled the attacking rebels. On their withdrawal, they brought a number of the civilian hostages, he said.
The PNP said MILF rebels killed seven farmers in Barangay Tacub, Kauswagan in a pre-dawn attack.
Before the Lanao del Norte attacks, MILF forces under Commanders Dante Macaputang and Mursad Taya of the MILF's 104th Base Command ransacked the Sta. Cruz pawnshop, a drugstore, and the public market in Maasin town in Sarangani province at around 2 a.m. They also toppled a power generator, causing brownout in the area.
Two died in the incident, said Maj. Armand Rico, spokesman of the Eastern Mindanao Command.
TREACHEROUS
President Arroyo, in a nationwide address, described the latest attacks as "sneaky and treacherous."
"We will not tolerate and will crush any attempt to disturb peace and development in Mindanao.I assure the Filipino people that the government will defend them at all cost against any move or any group that will disrupt our aspirations for a genuine and lasting peace not only in Mindanao but in the whole country," said Arroyo, who convened the National Security Council yesterday afternoon.
Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who flew to Cotabato City, the North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte incidents are the biggest cease-fire violations so far and authorities are also looking at possible cohorts of the two MILF commanders, especially Bravo.
Teodoro said police and military forces in Mindanao remain on "combat alert."
Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said the MILF could show sincerity in the peace talks by taking appropriate actions.
"It is not for us to tell them what they should be doing. They have to do what is necessary especially in the light of these incidents now," he said.
The Coast Guard raised the alert level in the affected Mindanao areas.
Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo, Coast Guard chief, also ordered the tightening of security in major ports in the region. - With Raymond Africa, Jocelyn Montemayor and Gerard Naval

This is from the Mindanao Times.
Even the cease fire let alone the peace agreement seems tenuous. There is a widespread opposition to the agreement it seems and widespread disillusionment also within the MILF. Some obviously want to continue an armed struggle.

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