MILF, MNLF rebels clash anew in N. Cotabato

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AFP FILE PHOTO

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines—Rival Moro rebel groups clashed anew in remote villages in Matalam town in North Cotabato on Sunday, sending about 60 families to flee to safety.

“Land dispute triggered the conflict,” said Capt. Anthony Bulao, who spoke for the Army’s 602nd Infantry Brigade.

Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Moro National Liberation Front started fighting at 5 a.m. Another round of skirmishes was reported at about 4 p.m.

“We voluntarily left our homes when we saw both sides started firing at each other,” farmer Sammy Sultan said of the clashes that erupted as Muslims were fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. “It’s more difficult now because we are fasting and we are cramped in evacuation sites.”

The displaced families took shelter at the nearby Amas Elementary School in Barangay Amas, according to Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, Matalam police chief.

Sultan said it was the third time since May that the families had evacuated “because of the same conflict.” They refused to return home until normalcy is fully restored in their communities.

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