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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 18:22 GMT
'Over 100' dead in Philippines uprising
Jolo street
The military has deployed on the streets of Jolo
Fresh fighting in the southern Philippine island of Jolo pitting government forces against guerrillas loyal to a rebellious Muslim governor has so far left more than 100 people dead.

Philippines airbase
Separatists have fought in the south for over 30 years
Thousands of army troops are hunting followers of Nur Misuari, former governor of the mainly Muslim province of Mindanao, as government planes carried out air raids.

Mr Misuari, the former leader of the Muslim separatist group the Moro National Liberation Front, MNLF, has now been stripped of his powers and has effectively become a fugitive.

In a separate development, US President George W Bush has offered the Philippines extensive help to fight "terrorism".


Government officials say Monday's uprising was launched in a bid to try to stop elections next week in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao, ARMM.

We want to help friends and allies strike al-Qaeda wherever they exist

President Bush

They also accuse Mr Misuari of siding with the Muslim guerrilla group, Abu Sayyaf, which is on the United States list of "terrorist organisations".

Mr Misuari, who is not standing, has said the polls violate the five-year-old peace agreement he signed in 1996 as then head of the MNLF.

But a spokesman for the rebel governor, Abdulrahman Jamasali, denied the uprising was linked to the elections. He said the attacks were in retaliation for an army raid last month on Mr Misuari's supporters.

Aid package

Mr Bush said after meeting the Philippines President, Gloria Arroyo, in Washington, the US would co-operate in any way it could against Abu Sayyaf.

Mr Bush promised Mrs Arroyo nearly $100m in security assistance and more than $1bn in trade benefits. He said he would ask Congress to approve a tenfold increase in military financing.

The Philippines president said her country had managed to sever a connection between Abu Sayyaf and the al-Qaeda network of Osama Bin Laden six years ago.

President Arroyo earlier this month ruled out bringing in US troops to help fight Islamic militants, saying for the moment US military involvement would be limited to technical assistance and training in the south of the country.

The Abu Sayyaf militants, who say they want an Islamic state in the southern Philippines, have carried out bombings and killings, as well as taking hostages for ransom.

They are currently thought to be holding three people including an American missionary couple.

The BBC's Jonathan Head
"It will clearly take a lot more than new guns to find a lasting peace"
See also:

21 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Philippines uprising
20 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Arroyo suspends renegade governor
19 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Philippines peace deal broken
10 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
US bolsters Manila's rebel crackdown
11 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf
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