Monday, April 16, 2007

Philippine Rebels Declare Holy War On Manila

A leader of the Moro National Liberation Front in the Philippines has declared a holy war against the government in Manila, following a series of clashes between the rebel group and security forces in recent days. MNLF commander Ustadz Habier Malik says he made the declaration of jihad after three rebel camps in Sulu province were bombarded by government troops. Military officials say the bombardments were in retaliation for mortar attacks on Friday which killed a child and two soldiers. Malik is a renegade member of the MNLF who is believed to have sheltered two suspected masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings.He is also suspected of aiding the Abu Sayyaf, the country's fiercest Muslim rebel group, and members of the listed terrorist organisation Jemaah Islamiah. "Malik is now isolated and on his own. Other MNLF commanders are not in favour of the actions taken by Malik and expressed that they will not support Malik," Lieutenant-Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, a military spokesman, said. In February Malik embarrassed Manila by holding a general, a senior government official and their aides hostage for two days before releasing them in return for cash and food. Manila signed a peace deal with the MNLF in 1996, in a bid to end a conflict that has left more than 120,000 people dead and displaced tens of thousands more. But the agreement was not properly implemented and sporadic fighting between government forces and members of the MNLF continues. Peace advocates have called on officials, as well as the Organization of Islamic Conference which mediated the original peace process, to intervene and end the latest clashes.