Philippines: Messy Maneuvers

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February4, 2007: The MNLF released the government negotiating team on Jolo, and insisted it was all a misunderstanding (involving pointing guns in the wrong direction). The government agreed to one demand, it corrected earlier reports, and admitted that some "Abu Sayyaf" killed on Jolo were actually MNLF gunmen.

February 3, 2007: On Jolo, a negotiating team, led by a brigadier general (the highest ranking Moslem officer in the army), was detained by a faction leader of the MNLF. The negotiators were there to work out a peace deal with the MNLF, a smaller rival of the MILF. But some MNLF leaders wanted the government to free a senior MNLF leader first, and allow a meeting with Gulf Arab officials. The MNLF made peace with the government in 1996, but that deal fell apart (largely because MNLF leaders let corruption get the best of them). Now a new deal is in the works.

February 2, 2007: In the south, two dozen Islamic rebels attacked a local jail, overwhelmed the four guards on duty, and freed 49 prisoners, including several Islamic terrorists. In the capital, police raids discovered another Islamic terrorist cell. One terrorist leader was killed and bomb making materials seized. Many other raids were conducted.

January 31, 2007:The U.S. has offered a $50,000 reward for the capture of Islamic terrorist Abdul Basit Usman (who has recently been linked to several terrorist bombings.)

January 28, 2007:The army ordered a ceasefire in the south, to give peacemakers from both sides an opportunity to sort out the situation. There are MILF factions that have different agendas, and that has been leading to more firefights with army patrols. The MILF senior leadership is trying to sort it all out.

 

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