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Southeast Asia
Philippine police to ask MILF to help catch massacre suspects
Police yesterday said they would ask Muslim separatist terrorists rebels currently holding peace talks with the Philippine government to help catch 92 suspects in the country's worst political massacre. They said they would request that government negotiators ask the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for help in tracking down the remaining suspects in the 2009 massacre of 58 people.

However MILF vice-chairman Ghadzali Jaafar said his group would have to take up the issue with its top leadership before deciding. He said, "We will have to meet in the central committee. We are an organisation, we decide collectively."

Members of the Ampatuans, a powerful Muslim clan, allegedly carried out the massacre in the southern Philippines to prevent a rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against one of their members in upcoming elections. The Ampatuans and their armed backers gunned down 58 people including Mangudadatu's wife and sisters, their lawyers and accompanying journalists in the southern province of Maguindanao. Many Ampatuan members are now being tried for the murders but other suspects remain at large. The Ampatuans were allowed by the government to amass a private army to act as a bulwark against anti-government groups like the MILF.

Maguindanao police chief Senior Superintendent Keith Singian said, "We have confirmed that some of these at-large suspects sought refuge in the areas of the MILF, so we will try to coordinate with the peace process panel if they can help us track these suspects."

Mangudadatu, who was elected governor of Maguindanao after the massacre, said that he had been informed some suspects were being protected by relatives in the MILF.
Posted by:ryuge