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Troops overrun MILF camp, but fail to get Bravo–military

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By Joel Guinto, Richel Umel
INQUIRER.net, Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 11:47:00 08/28/2008

ILIGAN — (UPDATE 4) Government troops have overrun a rebel Muslim stronghold in the south of the country after weeks of fighting that has left about 150 dead, but failed to catch one of the leaders of the Moro rebels’ attacks, military officials said.

In the wake of the capture of the Bilal complex, AFP chief of staff General Alexander Yano called on the troops to press on with the offensives and “show the MILF hierarchy that we are serious [in] punishing their members who refused to give peace a chance.”

The complex in Munai town, allegedly under the command of Abdurahman Macapaar, alias Commander Bravo, was abandoned by the time Army troops entered at around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after days of fighting, said Lieutenant General Cardozo Luna, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff.

Major General Nehemias Pajarito, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said his troops engaged Macapaar’s men in a fierce firefight before capturing Bilal but by they time they entered the complex, the MILF commander and his fighters had fled.

Macapaar is the alleged brains of MILF attacks on five Lanao del Norte towns on August 18 that left at least 28 civilians and three government troopers, including an Army lieutenant colonel, dead.

But Captain Maamo Alonto and Brigadier General Mark Antonio Supnet, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, said the assault took place Thursday morning.

“Bravo did not put up a fight like what he promised in one of his interviews. He ran away before our troops entered Bilal complex,” Supnet said in a text message.

Brigadier General Hilario Atendido, head of a task force hunting the insurgents, said there were reports that a 300-man rebel unit had broken up into smaller bands of 50 men and scattered in different directions.

In Manila, military chief General Alexander Yano said the hunt for Bravo and fellow Kato must be pursued to its end.

Luna estimated that the Bilal complex was about the size of Camp Aguinaldo, the AFP general headquarters in Manila. He said the complex was previously overturned during the all-out war against the MILF in 2000, but was returned to the rebels when peace negotiations resumed.

Over the weekend, the military said it has overran 15 MILF camps and communities, including Camp Vietnam in Maguindanao province, a satellite training camp under MILF commander Ameril Ombra Kato, who led rebels who occupied several villages in North Cotabato early this month.

Since early August, fighting in Central Mindanao has left 55 people dead and 69 others wounded, while more than 220,000 have been displaced, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

Agence Frannce Presse

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-28T08:39:25+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 28 Aug 2008 08:39:25 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

Posted in Uncategorized

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