Rebels kill six in attack on Philippine village, military says
Muslim separatist rebels stormed a village in a southern Philippine province, killing six civilians, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
The guerrillas fired rockets and assault rifles as they swooped into Midtungo village in Senator Ninoy Aquino town in Sultan Kudarat province, 930 kilometres south of Manila, on Tuesday.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando said one civilian was also wounded in the attack by an undetermined number of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, reported dpa.
"We have dispatched troops to the area to hunt down the attackers," he said.
MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu denied there was an attack.
"There was no harassment that happened," he said. "The military is just preempting the situation in the area. Apparently, the residents are apprehensive of an attack."
But municipal social welfare officer Edmun Corder said more than 1,200 residents were forced to flee their homes in Midtungo due to the attack.
In August, MILF rebels launched a series of deadly attacks to protest a Supreme Court decision to stop the signing of a key agreement that would have expanded a Muslim autonomous region.
More than 200 people were killed in the attacks and subsequent fighting between the rebels and the military. The hostilities also displaced more than 500,000 people.
The military has since launched a manhunt for two MILF commanders who led the attacks.
Due to the attacks, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo dissolved the government peace panel negotiating with the rebel group and ordered a review of the negotiations.
On December 1, Arroyo appointed a new head of the government team in a step towards resuming peace talks with the MILF. This week, she named four other negotiators.
The MILF has been fighting for a separate Islamic state in the southern region of Mindanao since 1978. It signed a ceasefire agreement with the government in 2003.