02/08/2011, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Muslim rebels set fire to Christian village in Mindanao

No one dies, but dozens have to abandon their homes. Suspicions fall on a new armed group, born from a split in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Tomorrow, a new round of peace talks start between MILF and the Filipino government.

Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Muslim extremists set fire to a Christian village near the town of Mlang (North Cotabato, Mindanao). News so far exclude any deaths, but dozens of people have had to abandon their homes.

Filipino military sources say the attack is the work of Ameril Umbra Kato, a former leader with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who recently set up his own militias to continue fighting for an Islamic state in Mindanao.

MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu said the front has nothing to do with the incident. “We are no involved. It's a long standing conflict between Christian and Muslim groups in the area," said Kabalu.

Meanwhile, MILF and the government are starting a new round of talks in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) tomorrow.

Experts note that the split within the MILF has weakened the group’s leaders, who are open for dialogue. Many now fear renewed fighting between Muslim rebels and the Filipino military.

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