(Corrects number of soldiers killed in first paragraph of story originally published on Oct. 23.)
Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- At least two soldiers and six civilians were killed and 11 people wounded in rebel attacks in two southern Philippine provinces today, prompting President Benigno Aquino to boost military spending.
Aquino ordered the release of 10 billion pesos ($230.7 million) from the budget to buy planes and firearms, spokeswoman Abigail Valte said on local radio today following the attacks in Basilan and Lanao del Norte provinces.
Members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front suspected of carrying out the Basilan attack in breach of a cease-fire are being pursued, Major Harold Cabunoc, an army spokesman, said by phone today.
Aquino’s government is holding peace talks with the rebel group known as MILF, which has been fighting for independence in the southern island of Mindanao since the 1960s. Colonel Alexander Macario was removed as the commander in Basilan on Oct. 21 due to “operational lapses,” while military spokesman Antonio Parlade was replaced after saying in media interviews that the cease-fire with the rebels should be suspended.
About 120 armed men, also suspected members of the MILF, occupied a school and looted cattle yesterday in a village in the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay, Philippine National Police regional Director Elpidio de Asis said today. Eight military and police officers were killed in separate attacks on Oct. 20 in that province.
Nineteen soldiers were killed on Oct. 18 in Basilan by members of the MILF, according to the military.
--Editors: Edward Johnson, Thomas Kutty Abraham
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