Fighting erupts between MNLF, MILF fighters in North Cotabato

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Fighting between members of the Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front broke out in Matalam, North Cotabato, on Thursday.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the military’s 6th Infantry Division, said at least 75 MILF fighters under Hadji Mansour Imbong were engaged in a firefight with a still undetermined number of MNLF fighters under a certain Commander Aladin.

The local government and military have been communicating with both parties to deescalate the tension, Hermoso said.

Even as the fighting goes on, the MILF has agreed to pull out fighters who are not residents of Barangay (village) Marbel.

“The MILF was persuaded and agreed to withdraw its forces that are not residents of Barangay Marbel and requested for a safe conduct pass for its unhampered movement out in the encounter area,” Hermoso said.

“Likewise, government troops provided escorts to the withdrawing MILF forces and offered military vehicles to transport its wounded,” he added.

The military has also coordinated with MNLF and appealed to the group to cease firing and let the MILF pass.

On May 5, at least 100 families left their homes in the same town when both forces exchanged gunfire after MNLF forces allegedly objected to the entry of armed MILF elements in the area to conduct peace advocacy on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

Von Al-Haq, spokesman of the MILF’s Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, verified that the MNLF did not want the MILF to proceed to the venue of the peace advocacy program.

“Everything’s prepared including the venue. Even the people were already at the venue when the fighting broke out,” Al-Haq said.

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