Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers guard the entry of Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat in southern Philippines on September 7, 2019 ahead of a weapons decommissioning ceremony. (AFP)
Updated 05 October 2019

Seven Philippine former Muslim rebels killed by Daesh-linked gunmen

  • The dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
  • MILF was formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group, which began decommissioning weapons last month

MANILA: Seven former Muslim rebels have been killed in the southern Philippines, military and police authorities said Saturday, in an attack claimed by the Daesh group.
They said the dead were all members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), formerly the country’s largest guerrilla group but which began decommissioning weapons last month under the terms of a 2014 peace treaty.
A pro-Daesh armed group called Dawlah Islamiyah attacked an MILF camp near the town of Shariff Saydona on Friday, sparking fighting lasting several hours, said Lt. Col. Ernesto Gener, commander of a local army battalion.
Daesh claimed responsibility in a communique seen by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity.
The militants said eight MILF members were killed, but local police commander Lt. Col. Arnold Santiago told reporters the authorities were only aware of seven deaths.
Locals said they saw seven bodies being loaded onto a boat at a riverbank in Shariff Saydona, about 900 kilometers south of Manila.
MILF spokesman Von Al-Haq declined to comment.
The MILF peace pact ended decades of Muslim rebellion that had claimed 150,000 lives by government estimates in the Mindanao region, home to the Catholic nation’s large Islamic minority.
The MILF was put in charge of a Muslim autonomous region as part of the peace accord, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Daesh is attempting to set up a Southeast Asian stronghold there.
Hundreds of pro- Daesh gunmen seized the Mindanao city of Marawi in May 2017, sparking a five-month battle that left more than 1,000 people dead.
The MILF, sometimes with Philippine military help, has in recent years waged an armed campaign to flush out a number of pro- Daesh groups operating in the swampy farming region around Shariff Saydona.

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

Updated 21 January 2020

Karzai urges Ghani to drop truce as pre-condition for talks with Taliban

  • Ex-president says Taliban offer to reduce violence a ‘major development’

KABUL: Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged President Ashraf Ghani to drop the pre-condition of cease-fire to begin talks with the Taliban amid high hope that the US and Taliban delegates will sign a deal following more than a year of secret discussions.

Speaking in an interview with BBC local service, Karzai said the government “should not block intra-Afghan dialogue under the pretext of cease-fire.” He said the Taliban offer for reduction in violence as the group says is nearing to ink the deal with American diplomats in Qatar, was a “major development.”

He said Ghani needed to accept the Taliban offer.

Ghani says truce is a must ahead of starting any negotiations with the Taliban calling reduction in violence a general term and arguing that such a call by the Taliban political leaders in Qatar only goes to show that they have control over field commanders back in Afghanistan.

The Taliban say the group will announce truce when the intra-Afghan dialogue begins which will happen after Washington sets timetable for withdrawal of the troops.

Washington at least on one occasion called off the talks with the Taliban in Qatar due to Taliban attacks back in Afghanistan as discussions continued in Qatar despite none of the warring sides having committed to halt offensives during the talks.

Ghani’s government has been sidelined from all rounds of talks between the Taliban delegates and US diplomats led by Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar. There has also been rift between Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with the president in the National Unity Government, on the pre-condition of cease-fire.

Unlike Ghani, Abdullah is happy with reduction of violence. Talking in a meeting of council of ministers, Abdullah on Monday indirectly said Ghani had taken the peace process in his monopoly.

 “Peace is not one person’s monopoly, one person’s wish — but it is a collective desire, and the people of Afghanistan have the right to take a position regarding the peace process,” said Abdullah.