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PIA Press Release

MILF blames renegade member for attacks

Quezon City (18 October) -- The largest Moro rebel group in the Philippines blamed a former member for three recent bombings and protested a murder charge against its leader, warning it could affect peace talks with the government.

On Tuesday, police charged Ebrahim “al jah” Murad and 20 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in absentia for plotting a bomb attack which killed seven people and wounded more than 30 in a southern town last week.

A spokesman for the MILF said the charges were designed to break a 2003 truce and long-running negotiations to end nearly 40 years of fighting between Muslim separatists in the south and troops of the mainly Catholic central government.

“We see a third party here out to destroy the image of the MILF,” Eid Kabalu told reporters, adding his group has asked the police to drop charges against Murad to save the negotiations.

Kabalu said the MILF was cooperating with local security forces in hunting a former member, Abdul Basit Usman, who was suspected to have carried out the attack on Makilala town and two other towns on the southern island of Mindanao.

“We’re also running after Usman because he’s destroying our name,” he added.

There has been an upsurge in violence in the southern region of Mindanao over the past week. Late on Tuesday, Moro gunmen abducted four people, including three engineers, working on a US-funded road project on a remote southwestern island.

Brig. Gen. Reynaldo Sealana, Jolo army commander, said the Filipino engineers were inspecting sections of a road project funded by the US Agency for International Development when gunmen stopped their truck and snatched them.

Sealana said they were still looking for a motive for Tuesday’s kidnapping. (PIA) [top]

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