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Military hunting down 2 MILF leaders for Basilan attack

/ 05:09 AM November 09, 2011

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The military has confirmed it was hunting down two—not just one—ranking Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leaders in Basilan suspected of being behind recent criminal and other atrocities on the island province.

Major General Noel Coballes, commander of the Philippine Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said that aside from Dan Laksaw Asnawi, the military was also going after Hud Limana, commander of the MILF’s 114th Base Command.

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He said the military was also after at least three Abu Sayyaf leaders—Nurhassan Jamiri, Long Malat and Purudji Indama —but this did not pose much of a problem because the military could deploy its forces against them anytime.

Coballes said it was a different story with Asnawi and Limana because the MILF was currently in peace talks with the government and there were some mechanisms in place.

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“We were directed to coordinate with the MILF through the ceasefire committee in enforcing the law against wanted persons who are MILF members or are inside MILF areas,” Coballes said.

He said the military would only be providing assistance to the police when the arrest warrants against Asnawi and Limana are served.

“It will be a joint police and military action with the police as the lead agency and the military supporting them,” Coballes said.

On October 18, 19 soldiers were killed during a military operation against Asnawi’s group in Al-Barka town.

Asnawi and his men were reported to have attacked a military patrol resulting in the deaths of the soldiers. Limana is Asnawi’s commander.

The MILF said the military violated provisions of their ceasefire agreement when it failed to coordinate the serving of an arrest warrant against Asnawi with them. Asnawi was wanted for the beheading of at least 10 soldiers in 2007.

Under the ceasefire agreement warrants should be served by the police and not the military, the MILF pointed out.

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TAGS: Army, Attacks, Basilan, MILF, Military
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