Five Muslim rebels killed in clash in southern Philippines

Arab World Materials 30 August 2008 14:23 (UTC +04:00)

General Santos City, Philippines (dpa) - Five Muslim secessionist rebels were killed in a clash with armed tribesmen in the southern Philippines, a provincial police chief said Saturday, reported dpa.

The five Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) guerrillas were killed Friday by T'boli tribesmen in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato province, 1,050 kilometres south of Manila, according to Senior Superintendent Robert Kiunisala.

Kiunisala said the tribesmen armed themselves since MILF rebels began attacking towns in the southern Philippines after the Supreme Court stopped earlier in the month an agreement that would have expanded a Muslim autonomous region in the main southern island of Mindanao.

"The inhabitants are arming themselves just to protect their villages once the MILF rebels carry out attacks," he said. "We have no police in the area."

Major Randolph Cabangbang, a regional army spokesman, said government troops also clashed on Friday with MILF guerrillas in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province, 960 kilometres south of Manila.

Cabangbang said the rebels fled after two hours of combat.

The military has intensified operations against the guerrillas involved in the deadly attacks of towns and villages that killed dozens of civilians and displaced more than 160,000.