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Emissaries dispatched to pacify warring MILF factions

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By Ali G. Macabalang

Cotabato City – Emissaries from the police and provincial government are now trying to intervene to broker peace between two groups from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which figured in an armed encounter in Datu Saudi, Maguindanao,Thursday.

Provincial Director Sr. Supt. Agustin Tello and Governor Esmael Mangudadatu have dispatched their respective representatives to negotiate a truce between the two groups which were said to be locked in a local political feud in Datu Saudi town.

The Army-led Task Force Central (TFC) was also deployed Friday to prevent the fighting from further escalating and spreading to other places, local radio reports said.

No casualty was reported in the armed clash, but dozens of villagers fled Barangay Madia as calls for the intervention of top MILF and government officials were made by local officials.

Thursday’s gunfight erupted a day after two gunmen shot dead Sahabudin Namli, 42, a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Datu Saudi town.

Datu Saudi is known to be a politically-troubled town. It was carved out of Datu Piang town, and was named after Saudi Ampatuan, who was killed in a roadside bombing a decade ago.

The mayor of Datu Saudi, Samsudin Dimaukom, was also killed in an alleged shootout with anti-narcotics agents at a checkpoint in Makilala, North Cotabato in 2017.

Datu Saudi senior councilor Bayan, Anwar Sindatok, who got the most number of votes for Sangguniang Bayan seats in the 2016 elections, was shot dead a month later by gunmen allegedly identified with the MILF.

Lt. Col. Gerry Besana, TFC spokesman, was quoted as saying Friday that Army intelligence agents were validating suspicions raised by residents that the showdown between the two MILF groups was an offshoot of the murder of Namli.

Residents said some members of one of the two feuding MILF groups were reportedly related to Namli by blood.

Provincial government officials said Mangudadatu will convene on Monday a special meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) to tackle various pressing issues, including possibly the armed encounter in Datu Saudi town.

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