Manila: Fighting has erupted among Muslim
guerrillas due to a land feud in the southern Philippines,
displacing thousands of villagers and prompting military
planes to drop smoke bombs to break up the clash, officials
There was no immediate report of casualties in the
sporadic but heavy gunbattles between two groups of Moro
Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas that erupted over the
weekend in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao province, forcing
about 3,500 villagers to flee to safety, the military said.
Army troops fired warning flares late Sunday to pacify
two rebel commanders with about 100 fighters each. But the
fighting continued to rage yesterday, prompting the military
to deploy two warplanes, which dropped non-lethal smoke bombs
to ease the clashes, regional military spokesman Lt Col
Benjamin Hao said.
"The message was clear: Both sides should stop fighting,
or else," Hao told The Associated Press. "The gunfire subsided
after we dropped the smoke bombs."
The conflict among rebels and their clans over a vast
coconut grove in Maguindanao, about 560 miles (900 kilometers)
southeast of Manila, underscores the fragility of peace in
southern Mindanao region, where the 11,000-strong Moro rebel
front has been fighting for Muslim self-rule for decades.
A shaky truce between government troops and the rebels
has held for a year since their last major fighting in
Mindanao`s marshy heartland that killed hundreds and displaced
as many as 750,000 people.