July 21, 2007:
Despite MILF threats to halt peace talks, the government has ordered the
military to continue their search for those responsible for killing 14 marines
in an ambush on Basilan island eleven days ago, and beheading ten of them. All
Islamic groups have denied responsibility for the deaths, and have threatened
to fight, if troops come looking, in MILF controlled territory, for those who
did it. The marines were looking for an
Italian priest who had been kidnapped on June 10th, and released, apparently
after payment of a ransom (a million dollars was demanded), two days ago.
The MILF refuses to help the government find those
who killed the marines, and insists it doesn't know who did it. All evidence
points towards Abu Sayyaf, and a MILF faction. The MILF is increasingly split
between a moderate majority, and smaller
radical, or criminal, ones, that do not want to negotiate with the government.
The moderates can't control their radicals, and don't want to admit that, or
that radical factions even exist. Abu Sayyaf was formed from such a faction,
and became very popular when they received millions of dollars in ransom for
foreigners they had kidnapped.
The MILF has been told to decide by tomorrow if
they will cooperate, stand aside, or resist military operation to find those
who killed the marines. This forces the MILF to take sides against Islamic
terrorists and renegade MILF who have turned to banditry.