Some 2,000 civilians were forced to flee in the Sibugay Zamboanga and Basilan provinces, in the southern Mindanao Island, due to a military offensive against rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), engaged in peace talks with the Manila government.
“Let’s hope that the negotiations proceed. President Benigno Aquino strongly supports dialogue, but faces criticism from some sectors that deem him too weak and want to see a harder line against the rebellion”, said a missionary source contacted by MISNA in Zamboanga.
Tension escalated last week after an attack by MILF rebels against a military base that left 19 soldiers dead. In response, a land and air offensive has been underway for three days.
The low intensity conflict since the 70’s between the MILF and government is over a demand for major autonomy for the Mindanao Island, where the Christian majority is concentrated.