COTABATO CITY, PHILIPPINES: A top rebel commander has broken away with the Philippines' Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ahead of peace talks, the Mindanao Examiner reported Saturday.
Ameril Umbra Kato has taken with him several dozens of followers and talks are going on to win him back ahead of the MILF's peace negotiations with the government. Kato and his men carried out attacks in 2008 in Mindanao, killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands.
"There is an ongoing effort to convince him to return to the MILF and we hope his group will come back to us," said Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman.
Kabalu did not say why the rebel leader split.
Formal peace talks between the MILF and the government are scheduled to start on Wednesday in Malaysia, which is brokering the negotiations. The MILF said it is willing to sign a political deal that would give about four million Muslims in the southern Philippines their own autonomous government and control over its vast natural resources.
The 12,000-strong MILF has been fighting for an independent Islamic state in the largely Catholic region of Mindanao, which was formerly under the Muslim rule, since 1978.
(BNO NEWS )