The Straits Times
Published on Sep 16, 2012

Philippine rebels 'will not attack US over Islam film'


MANILA (AFP) - The Philippines' largest Muslim insurgent group on Sunday rejected Al-Qaeda calls to attack United States (US) targets over an anti-Islam film that has sparked protests around the world.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf) has instructed its 12,000 members to observe a ceasefire pact with the government, and will not attack US targets in the country, the Milf's chief political officer Ghazali Jaafar said.

"We do not live in the dark ages, there are rules and laws that need to be followed," Jaafar told AFP by telephone from the Milf's southern headquarters.

"We have an existing ceasefire with the Philippines, and we will not violate that." He branded the killing of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans at the US consulate in Benghazi a "senseless act of violence".

"Even in war, there are international norms that need to be accepted, including the protection of diplomats and embassies," he said, while condemning those behind the amateur film produced in the United States that sparked the violence.

Jaafar said the Milf would monitor other Muslim groups in the mainly Catholic Philippines, adding: "We will inform government negotiators of any impending terror attacks."

A Muslim rebellion has raged in the southern Philippines since the early 1970s, leaving some 150,000 dead. The Milf has dropped its bid for an independent state in the south, and is negotiating a peace pact with Manila to create an autonomous region.

The Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group also operates in the country.