At least 17 MILF fighters die in Mamasapano clash

MANILA, Philippines – At least 17 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) died during the clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao that also killed 44 elite cops

The MILF released their names to the media in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Saturday, January 31.

The names of the "martyred" combatants, according to the MILF are: 

This brings the number of fatalities in the day-long clash to at least 68. The incident also claimed the lives of at least 7 civilians, including a 5-year-old girl

Close to 120,000 individuals have been killed since the armed conflict in Mindanao started in the 70s, according to government figures.  

MILF combatants

A total of 14 MILF combatants were wounded in the clash. They are: 

On Sunday, January 25, some 392 SAF commandos entered Mamasapano town in Maguindanao, a known bailiwick of the MILF. They were targeting two “high value targets,” one of them alleged Malaysian bomb maker Zulkifli bin Hir, better known as "Marwan.” (READ: Dead or alive? Top terrorist was cops' target)

The government said the SAF commandos were able to kill Marwan during the operation but combined forces of the MILF unit in the area and breakaway group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters allegedly surrounded them on their way out of Mamasapano.

The MILF has maintained it acted in self-defense during the encounter and blamed the PNP SAF team for failing to coordinate with them as provided in its ceasefire agreement with the government. (Inside story: SAF kept military out of the loop)

Both the government and the MILF have called the incident a "misencounter" but the disparity in the number of casualties from both sides has triggered criticisms of a possible overkill on the side of the MILF

Peace process

Separate investigations by the government, the MILF, and the International Monitoring Team overseeing the ceasefire agreement between the two parties are being conducted.  

Amid public sorrow and outcry, President Benigno Aquino III declared a National Day of Mourning on Friday, January 30, to honor the fallen cops.  (#Tagaligtas: National mourning for SAF 44)

Despite calls from some sectors to scrap the proposed law, both the MILF and the government stood firm in their position to continue pursuing the peace process. 

Both sides flew to Kuala Lumpur days after the deadly encounter to ink the terms for the decommissioning of rebel firearms

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law seeks to create a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao with greater political and fiscal powers than the current one in place in a bid to end close to half-a-century of war in the South.

It is a product of the final peace accord between the government and the MILF that was borne out of 17 years of negotiations.  – Rappler.com