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Kato not in areas targeted by military–Kabalu

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‘Strikes on civilians could worsen violence’

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 19:51:00 08/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The unit commanded by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander Ameril Umbra Kato is not in the Maguindanao areas being pounded by the military, a spokesman for the rebels said.

MILF civil-military affairs Eid Kabalu claimed, in a phone interview, that the ground and air bombardments have been hitting civilian communities and MILF forces that were not involved in the occupation of several North Cotabato villages that were blamed on Kato and which triggered the current hostilities.

Kabalu warned that continued military strikes on the Maguindanao areas could lead to a further escalation of violence in Central Mindanao, claiming he had received reports a pregnant woman and several children had been killed in the attacks..

The military has said civilians have been evacuated from the towns of Shariff Aguak, Mamasapano, and Datu Piang, to clear the way for the pursuit of Kato, commander of the MILF’s 105th Base Command.

“Kato is not there,” Kabalu said.

He said the wanted MILF commander is in the vicinity of Kabuntalan and Libungan towns.

“The air strikes are continuing but they haven’t been hitting our camps,” Kabalu added.

Asked if the fighting could lead to a full-scale war in the south, Kabalu said: “There has been no statement from the MILF leadership. But if this continues, it could lead to that. The military is using all its might.”

“This is a very difficult situation,” he added.

Kabalu was evasive when asked if the MILF would reinforce Kato and Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, who was blamed for the Lanao del Norte attacks last Monday.

He only said there have been no formal requests to yield the two, despite several demands made through media by government officials, including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

FriUTC2008-08-22T14:46:55+00:00UTC08bUTCFri, 22 Aug 2008 14:46:55 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm08

Posted in Uncategorized

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