Two Muslim rebels were killed and 12 civilians were wounded in a gunfight between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a paramilitary group in North Cotabato.
Civil Military Office, 602nd Brigade chief Capt. Antonio Bulao said on Thursday the encounter took place in Barangay Lumupog, Midsayap, North Cotabato and was still ongoing as of presstime.
Bulao said the firefight ensued after the followers of Commander Abas Kudanding of the MILF 105th Base Command harassed the civilian volunteers of Barangay Lumupog Chairman Datu Rehnz Tukuran.
“Firefight is still ongoing,” Bulao said in his report to higher authorities in Camp Aguinaldo.
He added that the incident has displaced some 50 families of the said village, all of whom were temporarily evacuated to adjacent areas for their safety.
It was not clear, however, why the MILF members harassed the civilian volunteer group or if Commander Kudanding belongs to the so-called MILF renegade group.
Peace negotiations are ongoing between the government and MILF peace panels to finally put an end to the decades-old Mindanao conflict that resulted to lost of lives and stunted the economic grown of the natural resources-rich region.
The peace talks, however, is being opposed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a renegade group of the MILF that was founded by Commander Umbra Kato, the former head of the 105th MILF base command.