Six dead and hundreds flee as Philippines feud erupts between two muslim commanders

Murad Ebrahim (L), chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front A feud erupted in southern Philippines between two Muslim commanders resulting in the death of 6 Filipinos and hundreds fleeing.

Philippines military in the region have advised they are protecting civilians but not intervening in the conflict leaving the rebels to fight each other and the leadership of both government and local rebel leaders to resolve.

"There is sporadic fighting still going on there. We hear gunfire. It is still quite dangerous," local military spokesman Colonel Prudencio Asto said.

There is no expectation of this feud affecting the peace talks with MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) that is ongoing although President Aquino via a spokesperson has commented on concern.

"We believe that this should not hamper our discussions and negotiations with the MILF," Aquino spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.

The cause of the fighting seems to revolve round a breakaway group being led by Commander Abunawas that has been exchanging mortar shells and gunfire with MILF Commander Adzmie.

Like most of the issues in the Philippines it comes down to land and this one is over a long standing land dispute between the groups. The fighting has resulted in at least 210 families fleeing the area and seeking shelter in government evacuation centres.

The recorded dead count so far are four MILF militants and two belonging to the Abunawas faction, although there is a ceasefire in place fighting by the 12,000 strong MILF force has been ongoing.