Muslim Rebels Sign Peace Deal with Philippine Gov't

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The Philippines government has signed a peace deal with the country's largest Muslim rebel group.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has fought for an independent Islamic state for decades. This is a major step designed to end that long-running insurgency.

More than 40-years of violence in the southern Philippines has killed tens of thousands of people and crippled development.

The preliminary deal grants the minority Muslim population broad autonomy in the southern Philippines.

This framework for a new Muslim-administered region calls for a roadmap to a final peace settlement that is expected by 2016.

Western governments have long worried over the presence of small numbers of Al Qaeda-linked militants from the Middle East and Southeast Asia seeking combat training and collaboration with the Filipino insurgents.
One of those extremist Islamist groups, the Abu Sayyaf, was not part of any negotiations. But the hope is that the peace agreement will isolate them and deny them sanctuary and logistical support they had previously received.

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