[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Clashes erupt in southern Philippines
At least 15 killed in fighting after attack by suspected separatists on troops in Sulu province, officials say.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2011 08:32
Separatists have been blamed for decades for many attacks in the semi-autonomous southern Philippines [EPA]

At least 15 people have been killed in clashes between suspected separatists and government troops in the southern Philippines.

The fighting erupted after 50 men attacked troops guarding a school construction site and road project in the town of Talipao in Sulu province on Sunday, according to Romeo Tanalgo, a military commander. 

Thirteen fighters and two soldiers were killed, while six other military personnel were wounded during two hours of fighting, Tanalgo said.

Randolph Cabangbang, a military spokesman, identified the attackers as members of the Awliyah, an armed group, which he described as a "radical" organisation with links to the Abu Sayyaf, another group that the Philippines classifies as a terrorist organisation.

Cabangbang said Awliyah fighters launched the attack in a bid to take control of the predominantly Muslim territory from the military.

Abu Sayyaf has been linked to the worst attacks in Philippine history, including a ferry bombing that killed more than 100 people in 2004.

For decades, Muslim separatist groups have fought for independence or an autonomous substate in the southern regions they say are their ancestral homelands.

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) is the country's main separatist group that signed a peace accord with the government in 1996 after it dropped its secessionist bid and settled for limited autonomy in the south. It is involved in ongoing peace talks with the government, and insists it has no ties to groups like Abu Sayyaf. 

But most members of the MNLF, who complain that the Philippine government reneged on many political and economic promises under the 1996 pact, continue to be blamed for backing or carrying out violence in the country, according to the AFP news agency.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.