BUKIDNON (Zamboanga Journal /26 Jun) At least 25 people were killed in a weeklong gun battle between Muslim farmers and Lumad tribesmen, triggering an exodus of civilians from a remote southern Philippine town, officials said Monday.
Officials said the fighting, which began June 20, was triggered by a long time land dispute between the two groups in the farming town of Talakag near Bukidnon province. "Military reports said 25 people had been killed in the clashes because of land dispute between Muslims and tribesmen in the town," Capt. Jose Ritche Pabilonia, a spokesman for the military's Southern Command, told the Zamboanga Journal.
Security forces have already arrested 2 people connected to the fighting, latest military reports said.
Maj. Gen. Gabriel Habacon, Southern Command chief, said troops were deployed in the area to break up the fighting and arrest those involved in the clashes. "I have directed the commander in the area to stop the fighting and disarm the protagonists and arrest those responsible in these senseless killings," he said.
The military said the two groups were fighting over a vast track of land, which is also being claimed by a former government official Abdulkair Alonto.
Clan war is common in the southern Philippines and vendetta killings are rampant and fighting between protagonists sometimes lasts for years and even decades, until a pact is reached or blood money is paid by both sides.