• Arrested MILF leader released

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    ZAMBOANGA  CITY – The Philippines freed Tuesday a senior rebel commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) arrested in Cotabato City, a key MILF leader said Wednesday.

    Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF’s vice chairman and chief peace negotiator, said Ustadz Wahid Tundok has been released by the authorities.

    Iqbal earlier said Tundok’s arrest was illegal because he is covered by the cease-fire agreement between the government and the MILF.

    The two sides are negotiating peace and Iqbal earlier said the illegal arrest of Tundok could affect the peace process.

    Tundok and several of his followers came from a meeting at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat and was heading back to his base when his truck was intercepted by police forces in Cotabato City on February 23.

    Police said the rebel leader is wanted for a string of criminal cases from arson to murder.

    Asked if the MILF is elated or satisfied over the release of Tundok, Iqbal said: “Not much, because that should not happen at all.”

    Iqbal said the rebel leader may have been set up and his movements monitored that led to his arrest. “This could be a set up by those who are opposing the peace process,” he said, adding Tundok is a loyal MILF leader and supportive of the peace talks with government.

    Iqbal said another MILF commander, Yusoph Kusain, was also killed by police in Datu Paglas town in Maguindanao during a shootout. The police was trying to arrest Kusain when the fighting erupted.

    Police and military also linked Tundok to Ustadz Ameril Umra Kato, who led a series of attacks against civilian and military targets in Mindanao.

    But Abu Misry Mama, a spokesman for Kato’s group, said Tundok was never part of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement and its armed wing the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. “He is a leader of the MILF and never was part of our group,” Mama said.

    There was no immediate statement from the police or the military about Tundok’s release.

    AL JACINTO

     

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