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Military prepares for escalation of violence in south

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:48:00 08/05/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The military is gearing up for a possible escalation of violence in the south after the Supreme Court stopped the signing of an agreement that would have paved the way for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a spokesman for the Armed Forces said Tuesday.

At 7:45 p.m. Monday, hours after the high tribunal issued a temporary restraining order on the government and the MILF’s memorandum of agreement on the insurgents’ ancestral domain, rebel troops under a certain Commander Wahid fired mortars on Army forces on security patrol in Midsayap town, North Cotabato province, Major Armand Rico of the Eastern Mindanao Command said.

There were no reported casualties, Rico said.

Asked about the Midsayap attack, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman said: “We still don’t know if this is related [to the TRO], but the encounter happened after the issuance of the TRO.”

“We are hoping for the best, while preparing for the worst,” Torres told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

The worst case would be an “escalation” of violence, while the best scenario would be a “de-escalation” of the skirmishes, which had been concentrated over the past weeks in North Cotabato.

On Monday evening, AFP Chief General Alexander Yano said “contingencies” were being prepared to respond to any situation that would arise from the high court’s decision.

While there will be no additional deployments in Central Mindanao, Torres said there could be a realignment of forces.

“We have sufficient troops on the ground. We are deploying them accordingly,” he said.

Quoting Army, data, Lieutenant General Victor Ibrado, Army chief, said 27 skirmishes between government and MILF forces were recorded in the area from June 13 to August 3.

The clashes have left four civilians killed in the crossfire, and four others wounded. There were no reported casualties among the combatants, Ibrado said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-08-05T08:22:16+00:00UTC08bUTCTue, 05 Aug 2008 08:22:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

Posted in Uncategorized

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