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Filipino fighters say acted in self-defense in clashes with army

20 February 2015 14:01

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The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) says it acted in self-defense during clashes with the Filipino security forces, which claimed the lives of 44 police commandos in the country’s south last month.

“They (MILF members) did not ambush the PNP-SAF (Philippine National Police-Special Action Force),” said Ghazali Jaafar, the front’s vice chairman, adding, “The combatants did it in self-defense… On that basis, they did no wrong.”

Jaafar stated that the unannounced presence of the Filipino armed forces led the MILF members to believe that they had come under attack.

“When a stranger enters your house, and you think your life is in danger, you have to defend yourself,” he pointed out.

The senior MILF member also said that the front has launched a probe into the deadly incident.

On January 25, the 12-hour gun battle between the Philippines’ military and the MILF claimed the lives of 44 security forces and 18 MILF members in the country’s southern province of Maguindanao.

Filipino police claimed the soldiers were attacked by the MILF while they were on an anti-terror operation in the region.

Following the incident, the Filipino parliament suspended the consideration of a law which would grant self-rule to the Muslim minority in the country’s south.

Over 120,000 people have lost their lives in the decades-old clashes between the Philippines security forces and the MILF members.

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