After nearly a week of threats and violence,
the MILF radicals have been driven from the Christian lands they had occupied
in the south. Casualties were 33 dead (two soldiers and 31 rebels), plus over a
hundred wounded. Over 150,000 people, mostly Christians, fled the area to
escape the fighting. Only about 20 percent of the refugees have returned so
far. The army is now going after the
bases of the fleeing MILF radicals, and will try to destroy this group. Like
many MILF units, this faction has basically turned into a bunch of bandits. The
MILF will disown some such groups, but not this one (the MILF 105th Base
Command), at least not yet.
The peace talks with the MILF will have
to deal with the fact that the Christian majority in the country won't tolerate
turning over Christian owned land, simply because these properties are in
regions the MILF considers "traditionally Moslem."
Speaking of bandits, communist NPA
rebels continue to clash with soldiers and police. Several dozen casualties a
month are now typical.
August 14, 2008: In the south, two MILF terror bombings
failed. One bomb was discovered and dismantled, while the other went off while
being placed, injuring the MILF terrorist who was carrying it. More soldiers
were moved to areas where MILF radicals have seized the farms and homes of
August 12, 2008: On Basilan island, troops seeking Abu Sayyaf terrorists encountered resistance, and killed
at least fifteen rebels, while losing one soldier.
August 11, 2008: The fighting in the south intensified, with
about 23 dead (one soldier, two civilians and the rest MILF) and three dozen
August 10, 2008: In the south, there were some clashes between
troops and MILF radicals who were angry about not being awarded land occupied
August 8, 2008: About a thousand soldiers and police were
moved to the southern towns and villages recently occupied by MILF radicals.
Most of the MILF men agreed to withdraw, rather than get involved in a battle
they would surely lose.
August 7, 2008: Radical factions of the MILF has not taken
the collapse of peace talks well. The government had to respond to political
pressure and back off giving up land already occupied by Christian farmers. So about
800 MILF gunmen have moved into five Christian towns and nine villages in the
south. The rebels believe these areas should be just for the use of Moslems.
But the Christians have been there for generations, and the Christian majority
in the country backs the right of the southern Christians to stay on the land
they own, and use nearby public land. The MILF action caused about 6,000
Christians to flee, with many more ready to follow.