• Fearing fresh fighting, hundreds flee villages in Southern Philippine province


    HUNDREDS of villagers have fled their homes for fear of renewed fighting between Moro rebels and government troops in North Cotabato’s Midsayap town.

    Troops also disarmed two roadside bombs in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province and the army blamed this on the rebels.

    The Mindanao Human Rights Action Center reported that at least 785 civilians fled the village of Olandang on Monday following the presence of gunmen in the area.

    It said war refugees in the village of Dasawao in the town of Shariff Saydona in Maguindanao province reported hearing mortar explosions.

    “Per our grassroots monitors, the families from the villages of the municipalities of Shariff Saydona and Datu Piang towns in Maguindanao displaced by the gunfight between AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] troops and BIFF forces at Barangay Dasawao, on August 12 are still in the evacuation camps at Macasendeg, Midsayap and Damabalas Proper, Datu Piang.”

    “Further, the approximately 785 households from the 6 Sitios of Barangay Olandang, Midsayap also vacated to the houses of relatives and friends near the Olandang Bridge due to fear that fighting between the two aforementioned forces may erupt anytime. According to these residents, armed men are visible in the vicinity,” it said.

    Security forces have been fighting members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement which is pursuing an independent Muslim state in the country. AL JACINTO


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