2 MILF members hurt in clash with MNLF in NorthCot town

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/17 May) – Two members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were wounded after they engaged anew in a running gun battle with elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a remote village in Matalam, North Cotabato at around 6:20 a.m. Thursday, a military official said.

Captain Antonio Bulao, spokesman for the Army’s 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato, said the wounded MILF rebels were immediately rushed for treatment to the Cotabato Provincial Hospital at Amas Complex in this city.

Soldiers helped the wounded get immediate medical attention after they sought the assistance of the Army, Bulao said.

The fresh encounters occurred three days after the warring Moro rebel groups agreed to a ceasefire also in line with Monday’s elections, following a dialogue last Sunday at Barangay Marbel in Matalam town.

It was spearheaded by members of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) of the GPH-MILF, said Senior Insp. Elias Dandan, Matalam police chief.

The MILF and MNLF members recently clashed in the village after the latter allegedly prevented the former to conduct an information drive there on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which the government and the MILF signed in October.

Dandan said during the meeting, commander Datu Dima Ambil of the MNLF Sebangan Kutawato State Revolutionary Committee assured both the IMT and the CCCH that they would actively take part in the elections.

“In fact, majority of the 200 displaced families were able to cast their votes on Monday,” said Brig. Gen. Ademar Tomaro, commander of the Army’s 602nd Brigade.

Three days later, the warring groups were locked again in armed fighting, which resulted to the wounding of two MILF members and renewed wave of displacement, Bulao said.

On Thursday, Tomaro ordered the deployment of additional forces in areas where vital installations, including power facilities, are located to secure them from any of the armed Moro group.

The Army official said that based on their monitoring, armed men were sighted near the main headquarters of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) in Barangay Manubuan in Matalam, just a few kilometers away from the encounter site. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)

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