12 MILF DEAD IN FIERCE MAGUINDANAO BATTLE

Zamboanga City, April 15, 2003 -- At least 12 Moro Islamic Liberation Front 
(MILF) rebels killed in fierce fighting in Maguindanao province, a regional 
Army commander said Monday.

Major General Generoso Senga, of the 6th Infantry Division, said the 
fighting was triggered by attacks Sunday night of dozens of guerrillas on a 
military post in the hinterland village of Tugaig in Barira town.

Senga said the clash, which erupted around 6.30 p.m., left at least 12 
rebels dead. "We have reports saying that at least 12 MILF attackers were 
killed in the fighting," he said.

Guerrillas attacked with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades on 
the detachment of the Army's 75th Infantry Battalion, Senga said, but he 
was quick to say that troops repelled the attacks.

But an MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said three soldiers were killed in the 
attack. "MILF mijuhideen killed three soldiers, but we suspect there could 
be more military casualties. Our mujahideen commanders reported wounding 
many infidels," Kabalu said.

Senga has denied the MILF reports. "That is not true," he said.

Guerrillas also killed two villagers and wounded three children ages 5, 11 
and 15 in an attack Saturday on Boalan village in Pikit town in North 
Cotabato province. MILF forces also swooped down the nearby village of 
Dalingawin and strafed thatched houses there owned by Muslim farmers, the 
military said.

The military said the rebels also torched two houses before retreating to 
the hills. The motive of the attacks were unknown, but the military said 
guerrillas were collecting illegal taxation in the villages.

Sporadic fighting between the security and rebel forces continue in the 
southern Philippines. The MILF is fighting for the establishment of a 
strict Islamic state in the South and have mounted offensive against the 
government after military forces overran a major rebel camp in North 
Cotabato in February. (Al Jacinto PHNO Mindanao Bureau)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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