Updated: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 06:43:49 GMT | By Agence France-Presse

Key dates of Philippine Muslim rebellion

A Muslim guerrilla siege of the key Philippine city of Zamboanga is the latest flare-up of a rebellion in the south of the mainly Catholic nation that has claimed about 150,000 lives since the early 1970s.


A faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) attacked the port city as a rival group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) held peace talks with the Philippine government in neighbouring Malaysia, aimed at ending the long conflict.

Here are the key dates in the conflict:

1971: University professor Nur Misuari organises the Moro National Liberation Front aimed at setting up an independent state in the country's southern Muslim homeland, which is collectively known as Mindanao.

1972: President Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law to contain what he says are growing Muslim and communist insurgencies.

1974: As the MNLF gains strength, Marcos unleashes the military against the rebels. It is the start of intense fighting across parts of Mindanao that lasts for more than a decade, a period when most of the 150,000 lives are lost.

1975: The government holds its first meeting with Misuari in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He agrees to explore autonomy as a basis for talks.

1976: Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi oversees the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, providing a framework for autonomy in 13 provinces and nine cities in Mindanao.

1978: One of the MNLF's leaders and fiercest ideologues, Salamat Hashim, splits from the MNLF and vows to press ahead with the fight for an independent Islamic state.

1981: Salamat and Murad Ebrahim, another prominent rebel commander and hardliner, form the MILF.

1986: Marcos is toppled in a "people power" revolution and replaced by Corazon Aquino, who launches peace talks.

1996: The MNLF signs a peace deal with the government of President Fidel Ramos which creates the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao encompassing five predominantly Muslim-populated provinces. Soon after, Misuari is elected as its first governor.

1997: The MILF agrees to explore peace talks with the government.

1998: Joseph Estrada wins the presidency and declares an all-out war against the MILF. Estrada's troops overrun its main camp. Hundreds of people are killed.

2001: Misuari's forces attack key military posts in Zamboanga and Jolo island after he fails to win the support of Estrada's successor Gloria Arroyo in his bid to retain his post as governor of the Muslim self-rule area. The attacks kill dozens of people.

Misuari flees to Malaysia, where he is arrested and deported. He is detained in police prisons in the Philippines until 2008, when the government drops all criminal charges against him.

2003: Arroyo brokers a ceasefire with the MILF to pave the way for peace talks.

2008: Arroyo's government announces a peace deal that would have given the MILF control over 700 cities and towns. But it falls apart after the Supreme Court declares it unconstitutional.

In response, two MILF commanders lead attacks across mainly Christian areas of Mindanao. About 400 people are killed.

August 4, 2011: President Benigno Aquino holds secret talks with MILF chairman Ebrahim in Japan, reinvigorating the peace process. It is the first time a president and MILF chief have held face-to-face talks.

October 7, 2012: After many rounds of peace talks in Malaysia, Aquino announces a deal with the MILF to create a new autonomous political region. The MILF says it wants a final peace deal before Aquino steps down in 2016.

August 12, 2013: As the government and the MILF negotiate the details of key provisions in the final peace treaty, Misuari alleges that the proposed deal would violate the government's 1996 peace deal with the MNLF. He declares "independence" for the southern Philippines and urges followers to besiege key installations in the region.

September 9, 2013: About 180 armed Misuari followers attack six coastal districts of Zamboanga in a bid to hoist the MNLF flag over city hall. Security forces block their advance, triggering a deadly stand-off.

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