The number of families displaced by fighting among members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front increased to almost 300 as the two groups clashed anew in Carmen, North Cotabato, on Friday, a military official said.

Colonel Prudencio Asto, public affairs chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said 287 families from Brgy. Tonganon are presently taking refuge in Brgys. Lawili and New Panay in Aleosan.

Around 6 a.m. Friday, the groups of commander Teo Minanimbong of the MNLF and commander Karim Sagadan of the MILF’s 110th Base Command clashed in Sitio Misalan, one of Tonganon’s sub-villages.

Firefight lasted for almost 15 minutes and resulted in the wounding of Abubakar Ali, 35, one of the leaders of Minanimbong’s group, Asto said in a text message.

Ali suffered a bullet wound on his stomach and was brought to the Aleosan District Hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, Asto said the volatile situation in Tonganon “worsened” when members of the village’s civilian volunteer organization joined the conflict.

However, the firefight subsided when a platoon of the 7th Infantry Battalion arrived for “peace enforcement,” he said, adding that the soldiers are still dispatched in the area and are monitoring the situation.

On Wednesday, Minanimbong’s group also figured in a skirmish with followers of Sagadan and commander Tarzan Dagadas in Sitio Misalan.

Three days earlier, Dagadas’ group reportedly “harassed” Minanimbong’s followers at the Katian Post.

The skirmishes between the MNLF and MILF members, which have been going on and off since late March, are said to be due to a long-standing family feud, not a war between the two Muslim rebel groups. (John Roson)

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