Documents, explosives found in Misuari's home
MANILA – Several documents and explosives were seized by government troops inside the house of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari in Zamboanga City on Friday.
Chief Inspector Ariel Huesca, Region 9 Police spokesperson, declined to reveal the contents of the documents but said they are enough to link Misuari to the three-week siege in Zamboanga City.
Huesca said several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also discovered inside Misuari's house in Barangay San Roque which was raided by government troops at around 4 a.m. Friday.
Huesca said the pieces of evidence will be turned over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Meanwhile, Huesca told AFP that officers had to use explosives to enter the locked residential compound belonging to Misuari.
"The Philippine National Police were forced to deploy an access charge. No one was arrested," said Huesca, the police spokesman for the southern region, adding that Misuari was not at the property.
Police have asked prosecutors to bring rebellion charges against Misuari and his followers, who fought street battles with police and troops in Zamboanga last month in which more than 200 people died.
Misuari is accused of sending his armed MNLF followers to Zamboanga on September 9 to try to block a proposed peace deal between the government and a rival Muslim rebel group.
The government accused the gunmen of taking civilian hostages and setting fire to more than 10,000 homes.
It declared the rebel action crushed on Saturday with the release of the last of 195 hostages.
Huesca said police were ordered to arrest Misuari and seize munitions that may have been stored in the high-walled compound in a middle-class residential district about seven kilometers (four miles) from the scene of the fighting.
Moro rebels have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent or autonomous homeland in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines. An estimated 150,000 people have died in the conflict.
The MNLF, founded by Misuari, signed a peace treaty in 1996 that granted limited self-rule to the south's Muslim minority.
However, the group opposes a planned peace deal between the government and the remaining major Muslim rebel group, the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which could effectively sideline Misuari. – with a report from Edwin Sevidal, dzMM; Agence France-Presse