MILF rebels expel rogue commander | Inquirer News
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MILF rebels expel rogue commander

/ 05:37 PM October 03, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ main Muslim rebel group said Monday it had officially expelled a rogue commander who was opposed to peace talks and had formed his own unit that launched deadly recent attacks.

Ameril Umbra Kato’s ejection from the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) meant he was no longer covered by a truce with the government and could be arrested by the authorities, rebel spokesman Von al Haq said.

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“The implication now is that because he is no longer a part of the MILF, he is no longer covered by the ceasefire,” al Haq told AFP.

Asked whether the MILF leadership was willing to help in the arrest of Umbra Kato if asked by the government, al Haq said: “Yes. But the bottom line is, there should be proper coordination with MILF leaders first.”

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Al Haq also emphasised the MILF leadership had not totally closed the doors on Umbra Kato.

“He can be re-accepted if he makes amends and is repentant,” al Haq said.

The government had previously warned that Umbra Kato posed a serious threat to efforts aimed at ending a Muslim insurgency that has left an estimated 150,000 people dead over more than four decades.

Umbra Kato is the subject of an arrest warrant for a series of raids across mostly Christian areas in the southern island of Mindanao that left nearly 400 dead and displaced hundreds of thousands in 2008.

The attacks were launched after the Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional a proposed deal that would have given the group control over areas they claim as their ancestral domain.

The MILF leadership had previously refused to hand him over to the authorities, who are barred from entering rebel areas under the terms of a ceasefire signed in 2003.

But Umbra Kato last month announced he had broken away from the MILF, creating his own Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement.

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He accused his ex-comrades of abandoning the fight for an independent Muslim homeland, and vowed to block any peace deal.

At the same time as he formed his own unit, Umbra Kato’s men were involved in clashes with their former MILF comrades amid a land dispute that left at least 16 fighters from the two sides dead and displaced more than 3,000 civilians.

The MILF began its rebellion in 1978, itself splintering from a larger group that later signed a peace deal with Manila. It is currently involved in peace talks with the government, although the negotiations have stalled.

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TAGS: Acts of terror, Ameril Umbra Kato, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Peace Talks, Rebllion
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