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Philippine Rebels Warn of Rising Islamic State Influence

  • VOA News

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels celebrate the signing of the peace agreement during a rally at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, in southern island of Mindanao, March 27, 2014. Some think Islamic State could take advantage of the frustrations of Muslims in the southern region of Mindanao over the federal legislature's failure to ratify a peace deal.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels celebrate the signing of the peace agreement during a rally at Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat town, in southern island of Mindanao, March 27, 2014. Some think Islamic State could take advantage of the frustrations of Muslims in the southern region of Mindanao over the federal legislature's failure to ratify a peace deal.

The leader of the main Muslim rebel group fighting for autonomy in the southern Philippines warns the Islamic State could soon gain the upper hand in establishing a foothold in the region.

Murad Ebrahim, who chairs the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), told reporters in Kuala Lumpur Monday the extremist group could take advantage of the frustrations of Muslims in the southern region of Mindanao over the legislature's failure to ratify a peace deal reached between his group and President Benigno Aquino's administration in 2014.

The deal, which was brokered by Malaysia, would grant minority Muslims greater autonomy in the majority Roman Catholic nation in exchange for ending a four-decade-old insurgency that has claimed well over 100,000 lives.

Ebrahim said the MILF will not abandon its armed struggle for an autonomous homeland, but says it will not revert to violence so long as the peace process has a chance to succeed.

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