MANILA, Philippines, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The chief of the largest Muslim rebel group in the Philippines has died, news reports said Tuesday.
Neither the rebels nor the Philippine government expect his death to disrupt peace talks, however, Voice of America reported.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front announced its chairman, Salamat Hashim, died more than three weeks ago of a heart ailment and complications from an ulcer.
Front officials say his death was not announced sooner to give the group time to choose a new leader. After deliberation, military chief Al Haj Murad Ibrahim was named as the new chairman.
The group is seeking to establish an Islamic state in the south of the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Philippines. Peace talks stalled earlier this year amid an upsurge in violence in Mindanao and the government's crackdown on terrorism.
However, President Gloria Arroyo announced last week negotiations would resume this month with the help of Malaysia and the United States.