10 Aug : Fighting has erupted among Muslim guerrillas due to a land feud in the southern Philippines, displacing thousands of villagers and prompting military planes to drop smoke bombs to break up the clash Tuesday.
There was no immediate report of casualties in the sporadic but heavy gunbattles between two groups of Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas that erupted over the weekend in Datu Piang town in Maguindanao province, forcing about 3,500 villagers to flee to safety, the military said.
Army troops fired warning flares late Sunday to pacify two rebel commanders with about 100 fighters each. But the fighting continued to rage Monday, prompting the military to deploy two warplanes, which dropped non-lethal smoke bombs to ease the clashes, regional military spokesman Lt. Col Benjamin Hao said.
“The message was clear: Both sides should stop fighting, or else,” Hao warned while talking to media.
The conflict among rebels and their clans over a vast coconut grove in Maguindanao, about 560 miles (900 kilometers) southeast of Manila, underscores the fragility of peace in southern Mindanao region, where the 11,000-strong Moro rebel front has been fighting for Muslim self-rule for decades.
A shaky truce between government troops and the rebels has held for a year since their last major fighting in Mindanao’s marshy heartland that killed hundreds and displaced as many as 750,000 people.