180 families flee as Moro groups clash in NorthCot

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 27 June) – Some 180 families from a remote village in Carmen, North Cotabato evacuated to nearby areas when two warring Moro clans clashed anew Sunday, the military said.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Hao, commander of the Army’s 7th Infantry Battalion, said evacuees have sought temporary shelter at Barangay New Panay in Aleosan town and at the village center in Barangay Tonganon in Carmen town.

Hao said the five-hour armed fighting between the groups of Commander Teo of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Commander DTR of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) started around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

The evacuation of residents started Monday noon when the armed groups torched at least five makeshift houses owned by the farmers, reports from the Carmen police said.

The fresh wave of evacuation last Monday was the fourth since January this year, reports said.

Hao said the 602nd Infantry Brigade had already deployed additional troops from the 7IB to prevent further attacks and secure the villagers.

He added that troops from the 40IB based in Aleosan town were also sent to the place.

Hao said the “feeling of security” of the residents brought about by the presence of government troops “is just temporary.”

The warring groups, he said, want a third party to help settle the conflict. “But as to how it would be resolved, it’s still uncertain,” he stressed.

Two months ago, members of the International Monitoring Team from the joint government and the MILF ceasefire committees went to the area to assess the extent of the armed fighting and the damage caused.

“Yet, after the IMT visit and monitoring, the armed conflict continued until today,” said the colonel.

He said that the clashes apparently stemmed from a land conflict. “Each clan claims they are the rightful owners of the land. As long as there is no resolution as to the issue, I suppose the fighting would continue,” Yao lamented. (Malu Cadeliña-Manar / MindaNews)