Philippines: Southern Discomfort


April 19, 2007: On Jolo, the military has intensified its search for remnants of rebel MNLF factions. The leader of these rebels, Habier Malik, has long been a pain in the butt. But this time, even his old MNLF buddies have disowned him. Malik now has a price ($21,000) on his head. He's been chased from his usual residence, and is hiding in the bush with a few followers. The MNLF activity has caused at least a few hundred civilians to flee the scene of the fighting. There are over 40,000 such refugees on Jolo, mainly the result of attempts to hunt down remaining Abu Sayyaf members.

April 18, 2007: In the south, two men on a motorcycle were apparently carrying a bomb that went off by accident. Only the two men were killed, and police are trying to find out who they were representing.

Army patrols continue to encounter armed NPA in the central Philippines. The most recent clash left at least four dead.

April 17, 2007: In the south, an Abu Sayyaf gang kidnapped a seven man road repair crew. Apparently for ransom.

April 15, 2007: On Jolo, fighting has broken out between a rebel MNLF faction and troops. The MNLF started the action by firing a mortar at a marine base. Two marines were killed, as well as a child (one shell missed the base and hit a nearby government building.) The MNLF, a Moslem group, has been at peace with the government since 1996. But there are MNLF factions that, for various reasons, do not go along with the peace deal. The military responded by attacking two camps used by the MNLF rebels, killing nearly twenty of them, and causing many more to flee.

April 10, 2007: Violence between rival political groups on the island of Tongkil escalated into gun battles that have left at least six dead. The local police could not handle it, and reinforcements are being flown in. The island only has a population of 15,000, and several hundred gunmen are involved in the violence.




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