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PIA Press Release

AFP hunt for rogue MNLF Commander Habier Malik continues in Sulu

Zamboanga City (23 April) -- Military troops deployed in Sulu continue to hunt down rebel commander Habier Malik and his men, Major Mabini A. Abduhadi, OIC 4CRG-AFP said. In a press release, Major Abduhadi reported that recently the group of Malik launched mortar attacks that hit the Command Post of Marine Battalion Landing Team 11 in Brgy Seit, Panamao, Sulu and destroyed its municipal hall and wounded one civilian and killed a child.

He said that the AFP is working very hard to keep the peace in Sulu, even bending backwards just to ensure that the government will be able to hold up its end of the peace agreement with the MNLF.The armed forces are doing its best to prevent escalation of violence in Sulu. Thus, in the interest of keeping peace, "the AFP is forced to apply the appropriate amount of military force in order to prevent rogue MNLF Commander Habier Malik from fomenting more conflict," Abduhadi said.

LTGen Eugenio V Cedo, Commander of WESTMINCOM said that the "AFP is highly respecting the 1996 peace agreement between the MNLF and the government, but if AFP does not act to prevent Malik from hurting more civilians, his actions could cause many more 'ridos' or clan wars that would cause further bloodshed, not to mention economic dislocation". He also added that AFP is not condemning MNLF as a whole because the AFP holds on to the 1996 peace agreement, but only to the group of commander Malik and his other followers.

Adbuhadi also noted some reactions from other MNLF commanders on the issue of Malik. They stressed the AFP that they are not supporting Habier Malik's call for "jihad" and promised that they will stay away from the on-going conflict. The military is encouraged by this support for peace and also assures that the military is one with them on this aspect.

Attaining a peaceful and lasting solution in Mindanao conflict is one of the major thrusts of the government, and the AFP fully supports this thrust. The military even assists in various developmental projects initiated since it recognizes that there are peaceful means to resolve the conflicts.

As military offensives continue against rebel commander Habier Malik and his men, the AFP and the government assures the safety and welfare of the civilians displaced by the fighting in Sulu. With the help of the government agencies, the villagers displaced were given food and medicines in government shelters in Jolo. (4CRG-AFP/PIA-BASULTA) [top]

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