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The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or MILF, is an Islamic fundamentalist group fighting for the secession of the Muslim lands of the southern Philippines and the establishment of an Islamic state. It was founded (and is still led) by Hashim Salamat when he split from Nur Misuari's Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1977. Mostly consisting of ethnic Maguindanaw troops, they currently field anywhere from 3,000-5,000 men.

The MILF initially pursued a more moderate and conciliatory approach to the government during the Marcos, Aquino and Ramos administrations, aside from a brief offensive during the 1987 MNLF signing of the ARMM agreement that was ended with a truce within a month.

The MILF took a decidedly more militant stance versus Joseph Estrada's government. Some analysts say Estrada used the Abu Sayyaf Sipadan incident as a pretense to declare "total war" upon the MILF in 2000; for nearly a year, the military conducted an all-out assault on the MILF camps, primarily Camp Abubakar. This only stopped when Arroyo assumed control of the government in January 2001 and declared a cessation of all hostilities with the beginning of new peace talks.

Even with Estrada's ouster, the MILF is still wary of trusting the military; while Camp Abubakar has been returned to their control, sporadic firefights still break out between MILF units and military elements that have "strayed" over the line. They seem to support the Arroyo government to some degree, even declaring that they would not support the rogue Abu Sayyaf group in any way.

Some facts checked from www.fas.org, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and local news broadcasts.

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