Philippines: Stand and Deliver

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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.

 

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