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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 07:18 GMT
Manila sends more troops to Jolo
Armed policeman manning a road block in Jolo island, 10 February
Tensions are high in Jolo as the fighting continues
Re-enforcements have been flown to the southern Philippines island of Jolo after clashes with rebels continued for a fifth day.

More than 2,000 soldiers are now in the area fighting several hundred men from the Abu Sayyaf, which has been tied to al-Qaeda, and a rebel splinter group.

More than 60 people have been killed since the clashes began, in some of the most intense fighting for years.

Thousands of villagers have arrived in Jolo town to escape the violence.

There have been some calls from local leaders for a ceasefire, but a military commander in the region, Lt Gen Alberto Braganza, appeared to rule out the idea.

"I have a mission to accomplish on the ground, I will finish what the rebels started," he said.


The fighting began on Monday and appears to have been triggered by the army's entry into rebel territory following an ambush.

The rebels are believed to include fighters from the Abu Sayyaf and some disgruntled members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed a peace deal with the government in 1996.

The Philippines government said on Friday that the MNLF fighters were being led by a brother of Nur Misuari, who used to lead the MNLF until he was jailed on charges of rebellion in 2001.

There has been no sign yet that a larger rebel group, the Mindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), will become involved in the dispute or end its ceasefire.

The latest skirmishes have been concentrated in several towns around Jolo, a known stronghold for Islamic militants.


SEE ALSO:
Guide to the Philippines conflict
30 Mar 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Philippines army bombs militants
27 Jan 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: The Philippines
08 Jan 05 |  Country profiles
Abu Sayyaf men sentenced to death
13 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Manila signs ceasefire with MILF
18 Jul 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Mindanao's Muslim refugees
03 Jun 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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