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Muslim group asks Philippine government to drop rebel chief's name in criminal complaint

Muslim group asks Philippine government to drop rebel chief's name in criminal complaint

A Muslim guerrilla group has asked the Philippine government to drop its leader's name from a criminal complaint filed by police in connection with a deadly bombing, warning that peace talks could collapse if the demand wasn't met, a rebel said Sunday.
Police filed a murder complaint last week against Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Al Haj Murad, suspected MILF commanders and three Indonesian militants for allegedly plotting a bombing that killed six people and wounded 29 others in southern North Cotabato province on Oct. 10, officials said.
The guerrillas, however, denied the involvement of Murad or the MILF, saying they doubt the credibility of an alleged rebel witness who said MILF commanders and al-Qaida-linked Indonesian militants plotted the attack.
The rebel recently surrendered to police and told investigators that he overheard an MILF commander discussing the planned attack over the phone with Murad, police officials said.
Mohagher Iqbal, the MILF's chief negotiator in Malaysian-brokered peace talks, said he asked the government, through a letter he sent Saturday to his counterpart Silvestre Afable, to drop the names of Murad and the other MILF commanders from the complaint, calling their inclusion "a big insult."
"There is only one way to ease the tension and anxiety brought about by this ironic twist of events, that is, to drop immediately the names of MILF leaders and members mentioned in the baseless criminal complaints," Iqbal wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by The Associated Press.
The issue could lead "to the collapse of peace talks and poses additional obstacles to the search for just peace and solution to the Mindanao conflict," Iqbal said, referring to the southern region where the MILF has been fighting for self-rule.
The talks hit a snag in early September over the size of a southern area that would fall under Muslim control as part of a peace deal.
The government has expressed confidence that a three-year-old cease-fire would hold despite the impasse.
The complaint also named three Indonesian militants, including top terror suspects Dulmatin and Umar Patek, and a Pakistani national, police said.
Dulmatin and Patek _ believed to be hiding in the southern Mindanao region _ have been blamed for some of Southeast Asia's worst terrorist attacks, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.


Updated : 2021-10-28 16:12 GMT+08:00