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Troops advance to MILF stronghold in Lanao Norte–official

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15 rebels dead, 5 soldiers hurt since Monday

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:02:00 08/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Troops advanced to the reported stronghold of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander Bravo in Piagapo town, Lanao del Norte province, sparking intense fighting that has left 15 rebels killed and five soldiers wounded since Monday, a military official said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Maguindanao province, sporadic fighting with the group of MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato continued, as the rebels retreated after days of sustained offensives, said Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, acting chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Command Center.

“We are expecting heavy resistance from this area, these so-called strongholds of Commander Bravo,” Segovia said.

“Right now, as we speak, there is heavy fighting in Lanao del Norte, in Piagapo,” Segovia said, adding the firefight was ongoing as of Tuesday afternoon.

One soldier was wounded in Mamasapano town, while another was wounded in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, he told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

An army lieutenant was among the five wounded, Segovia told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

Troops are running after Kato and another MILF commander, Abdullah Macapaar alias Bravo, against whom criminal charges have been filed for attacks on civilian communities in the provinces of North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte, respectively.

Except for the sporadic skirmishes, the situation in Maguindanao has been relatively “quiet,” said Colonel Marlou Salazar, commander of the 602nd Infantry Brigade that is running after Kato’s group.

“They are running low on resources. They have also been beaten up by the offensives,” he said in a phone interview.

Segovia said “hundreds” of MILF fighters not involved in the North Cotabato attacks were reported to have augmented Kato’s group, but retreated after they were prevailed upon by “third party negotiators.”

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-08-26T10:25:46+00:00UTC08bUTCTue, 26 Aug 2008 10:25:46 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

Posted in Uncategorized

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