Philippines army admits difficulty arresting MNLF leader Warrant out for arrest of Nur Misuari since 2013 after being charged by authorities as brain behind Zamboanga siege in which nearly 200 people died

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (AA) – The military has admitted it is having difficulty arresting the wanted leader of the country’s one time biggest Moro revolutionary group despite his appearance at a meeting of loyal followers and combatants of other armed groups in the country’s Muslim south over a week ago.

The Jan. 11 event in Sulu was reportedly attended by around 2,000 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members. But the military did not arrest Nur Misuari despite learning of the organization’s founding chairman’s whereabouts.

Misuari has a standing warrant out for his arrest on charges of rebellion and violation of international humanitarian law of the Philippines, genocide and other crimes against humanity after being charged by authorities as the brain behind a siege on the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga in which nearly 200 people died and over 120,000 were left homeless.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gen. Mayoralgo dela Cruz, chief of Western Mindanao Command, told local defense reporters that they are having difficulties arresting Misuari because he is “very elusive and he is moving from one place to another.

He confirmed that an arrest warrant had been served on Misuari in October 2013, but added that they could not arrest the MNLF leader at the event because it was the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s mandate to serve the warrant of arrest and the military can only provide backup forces.

“For the military, if they [the police] ask for assistance by all means we will accompany them and make the arrest,” he underlined.

Dela Cruz, however, said he is confident that Misuari will soon be apprehended.

In 2013, a group led by Misuari laid siege to Zamboanga following to protest an ongoing peace process between the government and MNLF breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Misuari claims the agreement is a betrayal of a 1996 OIC-brokered agreement, has left his organization short-changed, and granted Muslims in the Muslim south lesser autonomy.

Misuari went into hiding after MNLF forces were defeated by government troops in the siege that left more than 300 civilians, police and army soldiers dead and scores wounded.

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