Violence Escalating: Christians Killed

9 April 2003

On Tuesday 25 March dozens of rebels stopped a Christian lorry-driver and his 
helper, and then shot and killed them.  Five Christians were killed by Islamic 
rebels in the town of M’Lang on Wednesday 26 March.  More violence followed on 
Monday 31 March, wounding 12 Christians in Midsayap town in North Cotabato.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) separatist group’s spokesman Eid Kabalu 
acknowledged responsibility for the attack in M’Lang town on the island of 
Mindanao where Muslim rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades into houses in the 
mainly Christian town.  According to the Vice-Mayor of M’Lang some Christians 
were also shot.  Three of the victims were killed while sleeping in their 
mosquito nets; two other Christians were killed, including a child, and six more 
were wounded.  

Government negotiators headed for Malaysia on Thursday 27 March to meet with the 
rebels.  On Sunday 30 March an interim pact to resume peace talks between the 
government and the Muslim separatists was made.  However, this was ignored and 
violence has continued.  In Midsayap the MILF also admitted attacking houses, 
injuring 12 Christians, and then using 6 Christian farmers as human-shields 
against the pursing Philippines army.  Kabalu responded by saying, “there is no 
ceasefire yet and our forces [MILF] are just on their active defence move.”

Tensions in the area were heightened on 2 April when a city wharf was destroyed 
by a bomb killing 16 people in the city of Davao, a city with a Christian 
majority and a Muslim minority.  This was followed by the bombing of three 
mosques.  The MILF denied responsibility for the mosque attack.  Kabalu 
suggested that it may have been “aimed at really igniting a Muslin-Christian war 
in Mindanao.”  However, a Mindanao legislator, Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero 
Pichay, and military intelligence sources blame the MILF.  

Peace talks between the MILF and the government are now in doubt.  The MILF and 
the Philippines army clashed again on 7 April.  In this incident the town of 
M’Lang was once more affected and 200 families were forced to flee to safer 
areas.

SEPARATIST VIOLENCE
Islamic separatists in the majority-Christian Philippines have been fighting for 
an independent Islamic homeland in the south of the country for the 5 million 
Muslim Filipinos since 1972.  Two Islamic militant groups, the MILF, mainly 
operative on Mindanao, and the smaller and more extreme Abu Sayyaf, mainly in 
Basilan and Jolo, are at the forefront of the current violence.  
Majority-Christian cities, towns and villages of the southern Philippines are 
often targeted by Islamic militants.  Christian ministers and missionaries have 
in the past been singled out for particular torture and gruesome execution 
because of their faith.

In other news Salip Asman Halipa, a senior commander in Abu Sayyaf, was shot and 
killed by the Philippines army on Tuesday 25 March.  The army has actively been 
seeking out rebels since 10 February.  They have had limited success, as has the 
government in its pursuit for peace.  The MILF’s demands include any peace deal 
in Mindanao being monitored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 
group representing 53 Muslim countries in the world.  This makes it increasingly 
unlikely that any future peace-deal will be beneficial to local Christian 
communities.


PRAY
Pray for healing for those who were wounded and comfort for the grieving 
relatives of those who were killed in this latest attack.  

Pray for the security of Christians in the Philippines.

Pray for the peace and a final end to the Islamic separatist conflict in the 
southern Philippines, in which so many Christians have lost their lives.



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