Thousand protest war games with US in Philippines

Thousands of people rallied in the southern Philippines on Monday to protest the start of annual military exercises with US troops.

Thousand protest war games with US in Philippines

Demonstrations were held simultaneously in at least six cities and towns in the southern region of Mindanao on Monday, according to Zainab Ampatuan, head of the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Moro People) political party.

Ampatuan said more than 20,000 Muslims and Christians joined the rallies and marches amid fears that the two-week Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder) exercises would trigger hostilities with Muslim fighters.

"We fear that hostilities may happen considering that Philippine and US troops will hold their missions in controlled areas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," she said.

"Instead of these exercises, we are calling on the government to resume peace talks with the MILF," she added.

Peace talks between the MILF and the Philippine government have been suspended since September 2006 over disagreements on how to set up a proposed Islamic homeland in Mindanao, home to the country's Muslim minority.

About 6,000 US troops and 2,000 Filipino soldiers are taking part in the Balikatan exercises, which will be held until March 3 in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Şubat 2008, 09:42