Muslim guerrillas in the Philippines on Monday rejected government pressure to quickly surrender those responsible for the beheadings of Philippine marines in an ambush that has strained an already fragile cease-fire.
Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels have acknowledged attacking a convoy of marines who were returning from a search for a kidnapped Italian priest on Basilan island in the southern Philippines, killing 14, but denied the guerrillas decapitated 10 of them.
The gruesome killings caused outrage in the predominantly Christian nation, with some politicians questioning the rebels' sincerity in peace talks.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and military leaders instructed troops to make the peace process a priority, but she also gave them the green light to hunt down the attackers, urging the rebels to surrender those responsible if they were from the MILF's ranks, or let government troops pursue them if they are al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf operatives.
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