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‘Get out of way’ of Kato, Bravo arrests, MILF rebels told

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:41:00 08/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) The military has poured more troops to Mindanao as it warned Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels to “get out of the way” of pursuit operations against two of their commanders who led attacks in two provinces, an official said.

An additional Army battalion was sent to augment the thousands of troops that have been hunting down Commanders Ameril Umbra Kato and Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo, said Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, acting chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command center.

Kato led the 105th Base Command of the MILF in an occupation of 15 villages in North Cotabato earlier this month while Macapaar led the 102nd and 103rd Base Commands in attacks on five towns in Lanao del Norte last Monday.

Maguindanao is a known stronghold of Kato while Macapaar is known to operate in the Lanao provinces.

Segovia also said that the Philippine Navy has set up blockades to prevent the rebels from escaping while the Philippine Air Force would continue air raids, whenever requested by ground commanders.

“The Armed Forces of the Philippines has stepped up its operations to punish the lawless MILF groups who have caused severe damage to lives and property in Mindanao,” Segovia told a news conference in Camp Aguinaldo.

“We are running against the members of these three base commands so we are asking the rest of the MILF to get out of the way,” he said.

Asked what could happen if the MILF would ignore the military’s appeal, Segovia said: “Anybody who will
support these groups that we are pursuing, and will join them, sympathizes with them also becomes part of our operations.”

“Even in simple terms anybody who harbors the fugitive becomes liable. It’s that simple,” he said.

Segovia said that most of the recently reported skirmishes have been “initiated by the AFP.”

“We have regained the initiative,” Segovia said.

The North Cotabato fighting has left two soldiers and 31 fighters killed while the Lanao del Norte attacks left 28 civilians, three soldiers, and a policeman killed, the military said.

“We tried all the peaceful means necessary for some of the groups, this is the only language they understand so we are talking to them in that language by using military operations,” he said.

Reports said the MILF attacks were in retaliation for the Supreme Court’s decision to stop the signing of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain between the government and the Muslim rebel group.

With a report from Nikko Dizon, Inquirer

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-21T09:20:07+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 21 Aug 2008 09:20:07 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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