Newspaper article Manila Bulletin
(Reuters) -- Six people were killed when security forces exchanged mortar fire with separatist guerrillas on the southern island of Mindanao, Army officials and a rebel spokesman said on Saturday.
Nestor Taasan, mayor of Tulunan town in the central part of Mindanao, said dozens of soldiers, backed by paramilitary forces, repulsed an attack by 100 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) at dawn on Thursday.
"The soldiers were warned about armed men massing outside the town by some villagers who were about to harvest their rice," said Taasan, adding hundreds of people fled during the four-hour battle.
Colonel Ruperto Pabustan, brigade commander in the Cotabato area, rushed reinforcements to the village.
"We're investigating to determine who started the fighting," Pabustan told reporters, adding the military might file a protest before the rebels' ceasefire panel.
Eid Kabalu, a rebel spokesman, said the MILF forces had been ordered to stand down to allow the people to return to their homes and harvest their produce. …