44 Philippine National-Special Action Forces commandos and 17 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were killed in an encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao on Sunday.

It happens when both sides fail to identify each other. Usally when one gets to identify a friendly force he will call a ceasefire. In this particular case, the firing of MILF was instead fast and furious. It was an overkilling. For many, a massacre. Yet, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have just signed a comprehensive peace pact last year, 2014.

But  clashes in Mamasapano are not limited to government forces and rebel groups. On June 9, 2014, a rebel group called BIFF  (Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters) came from Mamasapano and launched simultaneous attacks against a military detachment and MILF forces too. Von Al Haq, MILF vice chair for military affairs, said it was a result of an ‘unresolved’ family feud involving land disputes not settled.

This area is also the “playgrounds” of the Ampatuan clan, which has reigned over the province for years. On the 23th of November , 2009, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, there was a massacre.  58 victims were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town. Instead they were kidnapped and brutally killed. Mangudadatu was challenging Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. and member of one of Mindanao’s leading Muslim political clans, in the forthcoming Maguindanao gubernatorial election, in 2010. The people killed included Mangudadatu’s wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses and mistakenly identified as part of the convoy. In December 2012 the main massacre suspect, Bahnarin “Datu Ban” Ampatuan, has been said, took shelter, hiding, inside the territory of the MILF near the Kabulnan River not to far from Mamasapano.

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