Death toll in S Philippines clash reaches 14

13:42, April 04, 2011      

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The death toll in a fighting between a rebel group and a Muslim clan in the southern Philippines reached 14, a local military official said on Monday.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, spokesman for the military's 6th Division, said ten people were already killed in the side of Maguindanao Governor Ismael Mangudadatu while four on followers of Tautin Salendab, a field commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in the ongoing gun battle in the town of Mangudadatu.

On Sunday, eight people were killed, including relatives of Mangudadatu, while four other civilians were injured when gunmen allegedly led by Salendab fired at the victims visiting a project.

Mangudadatu said he received information citing Salendab, who was opposing the road project, was behind the ambush.

But Eid Kabalu, spokesman for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the country's largest rebel group engaged in peace talks with Manila, said that heir forces under field commander Tauting Salendab has no knowledge of the ambush.

"This is another violation. They are just pointing anybody without conducting investigation. It's unfair," Kabalu said.

Asto said soldiers were ordered to stay away in the fighting.

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said the fighting has something to do with land dispute between two warning clans.

Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac, police chief of Maguindanao, said an investigation was still being conducted.

In November 2009, more than two dozen members and political supporters of the Mangudadatu clan were killed together with at least 32 journalists by alleged members of the Ampatuan family. The Mangudadatus and the Ampatuans are political rivals.

Source: Xinhua

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