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Muslim rebels kill man in Philippines raid despite peace talks

PAGADIAN, December 6, 2013 (AFP) - Muslim rebels killed one man in a raid on a police station in the southern Philippines Friday to free two arrested comrades despite a ceasefire and peace talks with the government, officials said.

The attack in the city of Marawi came as government negotiators held talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Malaysia with the aim of finalising a peace pact to end decades of fighting.

Police chief Superintendent Christopher Panapan was seized by the rebels and used as a human shield while his brother-in-law, a civilian, was shot dead, said local army chief Colonel Glen Macasero.

Panapan was later turned over to local officials, said national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Sindac.

About 50 members of MILF freed two of their arrested comrades in the pre-dawn assault in Marawi, a largely-Muslim city about 800 kilometres (500 miles) south of Manila.

Army spokesman Captain Jefferson Somera said the attack was a clear violation of the ceasefire and the issue would be raised with the joint ceasefire monitoring committee.

MILF spokesman Von al-Haq confirmed the incident, saying members "rescued their two arrested brothers... and even killed one civilian and the chief of police was abducted by them".

However he claimed the arrest of the two MILF members for illegal possession of firearms in October was also a violation of the ceasefire.

The MILF spokesman also said the raid on the police should not affect the peace talks.

"This is a very isolated case. What is important here is the sincerity of both sides," he said.

The MILF has waged a guerrilla war for a separate Islamic state in Mindanao which has claimed an estimated 150,000 lives since the 1970s.

President Benigno Aquino's government and the MILF signed a preliminary deal in October 2012 outlining the broad terms for a peace treaty that is expected to be signed before he ends his six-year term in 2016.

However negotiators have had difficulty hammering out the details of the agreement, particularly those creating an autonomous region for the country's Muslim minority.



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