1000 MILF rebels under the command of Umbra Kato have seized control of thirty five villages in the North Cotabato province. 2000 Philippine troops with helicopters and artillery were sent in to the seized area on August 9 to liberate it from the rebels. The MILF had wanted North Cotabato to be included in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The government and MILF had been negotiating for the inclusion of the province in the Muslim Autonomous Region but the Supreme Court had struck down the proposal after hearing concern from local Christian leaders in the region.
The rebel troops were ordered to leave the area by their commanders but the contingents under Kato refused to leave the villages they had occupied and instead dug in. The Philippine Army responded on the 9th of August by bombarding them. The next day, the government forces moved to retake the villages recapturing two of them from the rebels.