The rebel governor Nur Misuari, President of the Moro national Liberation Front (MNLF), launched an armed insurrection on Monday to prevent the government from choosing a new governor for the Autonomous Region for Moslem Mindanao.
The Filipino government set up this autonomous region in 1996, installing Misuari as its leader, after reaching a peace deal with the four impoverished Moslem provinces in the south of the country. Misuari had led a revolt against Manila for 24 years, calling for an independent Islamic state. However, president Gloria Arroyo accuses Misuari of mismanagement and intends to replace him.
Between 500 and 800 MNLF gunmen began an uprising on Monday. Fighting continues today and so far, over 100 insurgents have been killed by the 7,000-strong Filipino armed force sent to put down the revolt. The commander of the southern region for the Philippines Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Roy Cimatu, declared that “We know where their hideouts are and air strikes are continuing on these hideouts...the enemy suffered casualties not lower than 100 and most of them were inflicted by our air strikes”.
Gloria Arroyo meanwhile visited Washington, where President Bush promised her around 100 million USD in “security assistance” against Misuari and Abu Sayyaf, another Islamic fundamentalist group which operates in the south of the Philippines. Manila accuses Misuari of entering into an alliance with Abu Sayyaf, while Washington classifies this organisation as being on the list of terrorist organisations linked to Al-Qaeda.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru