Hundreds flee restive Cotabato village

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ZAMBOANGA CITY: Hundreds of villagers have fled their homes for fear of renewed fighting between Muslim rebels and government troops in North Cotabato’s Midsayap town.

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Government soldiers also disarmed two roadside bombs in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province allegedly planted by 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 troops and BIFF forces at Barangay Dasawao, on August 12 are still in the evacuation camps at Macasendeg, Midsayap and Damabalas Proper, Datu Piang,” the Center reported.

“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 added.

Security forces have been fighting members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement under former Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander Ameril Umbrakato, who is pursuing an independent Muslim state in the country.

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