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    Posted January 28, 2014 by

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    Violence erupts in Phl; 17 killed

    SEVENTEEN rebels belonging to the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were killed in an encounter with government troops in war-torn Southern Philippines, a state-run wire agency reported Tuesday.
    The fighting between military forces and the BIFF rebels began January 26, a day after the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a peace deal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
    The BIFF is a breakaway of the MILF. The MILF, on the other hand, is also a breakaway of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founded by Nur Misuari.
    The peace agreement will establish a Bangsamoro State, replacing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) formerly headed by Misuari as governor, who strongly opposes the peace pact.
    The ARMM has already sent an initial 1,500 food packs to thousands of individuals displaced by intermittent fighting in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato provinces.
    Lawyer Laisa Alamia, regional executive secretary, said some 9,070 individuals or 1,814 families have fled their homes since January 26 due to the continuing clashes.
    The affected areas include eight villages in the town of Datu Piang, two villages in Shariff Saidona Mustapha; and one village in Sultan sa Barongis, all in Maguindanao.
    Also affected are several remote villages in Pikit, North Cotabato, near Paidu Pulangi River.
    Intense fighting was monitored since Sunday along the villages situated near Paidu Pulangi River that divides the two provinces.
    “Repacking of relief items are ongoing,” Alamia told newsmen here during a press briefing Monday following the opening of the ARMM Humanitarian Emergency Action and Response Team (HEART) operations center upon the assistance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
    The ARMM-HEART headquarters would manage a 24/7 operation to deliver quick response to communities in the region hit by both natural and man-made calamities.
    Bernard Kerblat, UNHCR country representative, said their agency has poured in P47 million to the ARMM-HEART operation this year intended for capital outlay, food pack stocks and capacity-building programs.
    Kerblat said the UNHCR is ready to infuse more funds to the ARMM should the need arise.
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