Philippines: Southern Discomfort


November 4,2008: Three rogue MILF commanders, and over a thousand of their gunmen, continue to fight the army and police. Over two months of fighting has left about 300 dead (a third of them civilians, most of the rest MILF fighters), at least 130 kidnap victims and over 500,000 refugees. In the last week, there have been several hundred casualties, most of them because of fighting against rogue MILF elements in the south. The MILF leadership refuses to discipline the three rogue commanders, apparently because many of the several dozen commanders of the 12,000 MILF fighters, are considering going freelance.

November 3, 2008: In the east, troops seized an NPA camp, that was apparently home to over a hundred of the communist rebels. The raid was a surprise, because the fleeing rebels left much equipment and personal effects behind.

November 2, 2008: In the south, two electricity transmission towers were bombed. It's unclear if communist or Moslem rebels were responsible. In the last year, ten of these towers have been attacked, usually by NPA rebels trying to make a political statement.

November 1, 2008:  Police and troops were called to Tulayan island in the south, where two feuding (over real estate) clans fought, leaving two dead and nine wounded. The police were keen on seizing a mortar one of the families were using. These clan wars are common in the Moslem south.

October 27, 2008: In the south, fighting left one soldier and 14 MILF gunmen dead.

October 25, 2008: In the south, NPA rebels ambushed an army patrol and killed six soldiers. The army is more aggressively going into rural territory long occupied by NPA groups.

October 23, 2008: There's another big corruption scandal, as a police general, returning from an Interpol conference in Europe, was caught trying to smuggle $136,000 out of Russia (where taking anything over $3,000 out of the country requires a government permit.) The general could not prove the money was legal, and Filipinos are demanding an investigation.

October 22, 2008: The rising price of fuel, and the need to support troops fighting in the south, has forced the military to cut back on maritime patrols. These were being performed by the S211 jet trainers, which are also used to train pilots, and can be armed to carry out ground attack or interceptor missions.  


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