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MILF, MNLF fighters clash in N. Cotabato; local execs intervene to ease tensions

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04:37 PM July 21st, 2013

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By: Edwin Fernandez, July 21st, 2013 04:37 PM

MNLF. AP FILE PHOTO

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Rival Moro rebels in North Cotabato on Sunday morning clashed in a remote village in Kidapawan City, sending several families leaving temporarily their homes, the military here said.

Capt. Antonio Bulao, speaking for the 602nd Infantry Brigade, said the fighting, which lasted for about an hour, was between forces of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

No casualty was reported on either side sides, Bulao said of the 8 a.m. skirmishes which happened about a kilometer from portions of the Cotabato-Davao national highway in Barangay (village) Patadon, Kidapawan City.

Several families who hurriedly left after hearing gun bursts have already returned home, the Army official said.

Bulao said Sunday’s armed confrontation between the two groups was still part of the conflict involving the same groups in nearby Matalam town, also in North Cotabato.

He said at about 5 a.m., the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion learned about the massing of about 100 MILF forces near Barangay Patadon where the MNLF members and their families were about to harvest corn and other crops.

Bulao also said the MNLF first learned of the planned harassment by MILF. So the MNLF sent its armed followers in the village of Patadon.

The MILF forces withdrew after former Rep. Jimmy Matalam appealed to Noah Sabel, leader of the MILF’s 108th base command.

The MNLF forces are already considered part of the government after its leaders signed a peace deal in 1996, while the MILF is still negotiating peace with Manila.

Last May, MILF and MNLF forces clashed in Barangay Marbel, Matalam, North Cotabato over a land dispute.

Bulao said the conflict in Matalam, which has now escalated to Kidapawan interior villages, was not an organizational conflict but more of a land dispute involving Moro families who have ties with the revolutionary movement.

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