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Philippines Bombs Suspected Rebel Areas

Asia: Military targets sites in hunt for renegade Muslim governor.

November 23, 2001|From Associated Press

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines — The Philippine military bombed several suspected hide-outs of supporters of a renegade Muslim regional governor Thursday as the death toll in a four-day conflict rose to more than 100, officials said.

Brig. Gen. Edilberto Adan said airplanes bombed at least four areas in a hunt for supporters of Gov. Nur Misuari, a former rebel leader, who was charged Thursday with rebellion on the southern island of Jolo. A judge issued a warrant for Misuari's arrest.

Adan said at least 100 of Misuari's men have been killed since Monday when they attacked a military base on Jolo, about 600 miles south of Manila, the capital. Rebel mortar fire killed at least four soldiers and seven civilians, while a military counterattack and airstrikes killed 51 rebels that day, Adan said.

The military said Monday's attack was carried out by 500 Misuari loyalists and 100 members of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group that holds two Americans hostage.

"We have captured five camps of the renegades," said Lt. Gen. Roy Cimatu, chief of the military's Southern Command. "The operations will continue until we get Misuari."

The government accused Misuari of ordering the attack to disrupt elections to replace him in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Misuari said the Monday elections violate a 1996 peace deal signed between the government and his Moro National Liberation Front because he was not consulted about the election process.

Randolph Parcasio, a spokesman for Misuari loyalists, said the rebellion charges are "part of the domestic law of the Philippines, and chairman Misuari is not bound by that."

The military has told armed supporters of Misuari to vacate the Cabatangan regional government complex in the city of Zamboanga or face eviction.

On Thursday, at least five truckloads of heavily armed soldiers ringed the area.

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