6 KILLED IN GUN BATTLE BETWEEN MILF, MNLF

COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Xinhua) — Six people, including a minor, were killed in a gun battle between two rival Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines, an official said today.

Police said fighting erupted anew yesterday between the group of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) under commander Kineg and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under commander Dima Ambil in the remote township of Kabacan in North Cotabato province.

Lala Talino Mendoza, provincial governor, told reporters today that among the fatalities was a four-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet. The number of civilians displaced reached 1,200 families.

A long-standing land dispute triggered the fighting since last month between Ambil and Kineg.

The MILF originated from a split within the MNLF. The MILF is currently negotiating a separate peace agreement with the Philippine government.

In the south, clan wars or rido is common among clans and sometimes the hostilities could last for decades until a peace pact is reached by protagonists, usually through mediation by religious leaders and the payment of “blood money.”

Among major causes of rido are land disputes, particularly those caused by disputed government surveys or ancestral land claims; political rivalries, mostly election-related; crime-related, including murder and proliferation of illegal drugs, competition over resources and businesses.

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