News In Brief

Rebels hunted by Army in southern Philippines

Government troops backed by air and sea forces hunted 400 Muslim rebels today through the southern Philippines in a major search-and-destroy operation that has left 60 guerrillas dead, according to spokesman Col. Robert Manlongat.

Mr. Manlongat said two Army battalions using helicopters and armored personnel carriers were searching for Muslim secessionist guerrillas in the mountainous hinterland of Davao del Norte Province, 500 miles south of Manila.

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Meanwhile, Gen. Fabian Ver, the Philippines armed forces chief, missed a scheduled appearance Monday before a commission probing the murder of opposition leader Benigno Aquino. His lawyer told the commission that, while General Ver had to go suddenly to the southern Philippines over the weekend on a matter of national urgency and security, it was not his intention to dodge the commission.

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