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The World | IN BRIEF / THE PHILIPPINES

President Orders Halt to Offensive Against Rebels

February 12, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ordered troops fighting Muslim separatists in the southern Philippines to halt an offensive that has left at least seven rebels and one soldier dead.

However, a Moro Islamic Liberation Front spokesman said the rebels would keep fighting until troops pulled out.

It was not immediately clear why Arroyo ordered the halt in fighting around Pikit on Mindanao island. A peace group had urged the army to stop fighting in deference to a Muslim festival.

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