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Tuesday, 8 January, 2002, 14:34 GMT
Philippine troops clash with rebels
Nur Misuari
Nur Misuari has been barred from speaking to reporters
Gunmen allied with the Philippine Muslim rebel leader Nur Misuari have attacked government troops, injuring at least 14 people.

Security had been stepped up for fear of revenge attacks, following Nur Misuari's deportation from Malaysia on Monday.

Army officials say Mr Misuari's followers had been collaborating with members of the radical Abu Sayyaf group to attack the military on the southern island of Jolo.

Mr Misuari is facing trial on rebellion charges after his followers launched a failed uprising on the island last November.

More than 100 people died in the fighting, which came days before elections to choose Mr Misuari's successor as a governor of a Muslim self-rule area.

High-security jail

In the latest incident, army officials said troops fought a 10-minute gun battle with about 50 Misuari loyalists.

There were injuries on both sides, but no deaths, said Army Colonel Romeo Tolentino.

Malaysia handed Mr Misuari to the Philippine authorities on Monday, following a series of judicial wrangling. The rebel leader had fled to Malaysia soon after the failed uprising and arrested for illegal entry.

He is being held in a high-security police camp south of Manila, originally built to detain the disgraced President Joseph Estrada who is now being held in a military hospital.

Officials say if the court grants permission for Mr Estrada to be moved, the two high-profile prisoners may find themselves sharing a jail.

Limited support

Mr Misuari, who has been barred from speaking to the media, led the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in a 24-year revolt for an Islamic state in the southern Philippines.

In 1996 he signed the peace agreement that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), of which he became governor.

Our correspondent in Manila, John McLean, says Mr Misuari was a disappointment to both the government and the majority of his supporters.

The Philippine military is also trying to crack down on the Abu Sayyaf group, which has been linked by the US to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The group says it is fighting for an Islamic state, but its main activity is kidnapping for ransom. It has been holding an American missionary couple hostage since last May on the southern island of Basilan.

See also:

07 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Malaysia deports Philippines rebel
06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Guide to Philippines conflict
06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Independence call by Muslim leader
04 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine governor offers olive branch
29 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine troops clash with rebels
27 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
A never ending conflict
27 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippine rebels free hostages
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