COTABATO CITY, Philippines—Two rival Moro factions embroiled in a land conflict clashed in Central Mindanao on Tuesday, leaving four combatants killed and six others wounded, and driving hundreds of other people out of their village.
The violence occurred as Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiators were still trying to patch up a similar feud that erupted in Kabacan, North Cotabato, last week, which involved one of their commanders and a commander of the Moro National Liberation Front.
At least 1,000 people fled Tuesday’s skirmishes in a village of Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat, according to Senior Insp. Emerson Policarpio, the town’s police chief.
It was the latest incident of armed confrontation involving Moro rebel factions in the region, where many Moros are known to possess firearms.
The police in Central Mindanao has said that most of 20,000 firearms considered loose are in the hands of MILF rebels and MNLF members operating in the provinces of Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, Sarangani, North Cotabato; and the cities of General Santos, Kidapawan, Tacurong and this city.
Policarpio said the feud between commanders Bausad of the 105th Base Command and Bansil of the 106th Base Command, both units of the MILF, has been running for quite some time now.
He said the quarrel started when the two commanders laid conflicting claims on a five-hectare piece of land in Barangay (village) Pinguaman in Lambayong a few years back.
Policarpio said Bansil’s group suffered four deaths and two injuries during the clashes while four combatants were also injured on Bausad’s side.
He said the clashes drove some 200 families out of the village.
Policarpio said that as of Wednesday the situation in Pinguaman remains tense and the two sides could clash again anytime.
“We are on alert and we have adopted measures to prevent it from escalating and spreading to nearby villages,” he said, adding that both commanders have support from other MILF factions.
Clashes arising from feuds between Moro factions are common in Central Mindanao and in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, including Maguindanao province.
In recent years, these hostilities always developed into serious violence that dragged in the military, oftentimes threatening the volatile peace process between the government and the MILF.