COTABATO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / June 3, 2009) – Suspected Moro rebels detonated an improvised explosive on Wednesday at a village in the troubled Muslim autonomous region in Mindanao, killing a soldier and a woman, officials said.
Four other soldiers were wounded in the blast in the village of Maitumbang in Maguindanao’s Datu Unsay town, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, a spokesman for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.
He said the victims were just washing their clothes at a creek when the bomb was detonated near them at around 8 a.m.
“The victims were washing their clothes at a creek, just about 50 meters away from the road when the blast occurred,” Ponce told the Mindanao Examiner. “The rebels were behind the attack.”
He identified the killed soldier as Pfc. Nathaniel Nacilo and the wounded as Lt. Ricky Organista, Pfc. Christopher Jimino, Pvt. Ryan Cubilanis and Pvt. Martin Mangantang, all members of the 64th Infantry Battalion deployed in the town.
The MILF denied it was behind the attack and said civilians angry with military abuses in the town could be behind the bombing.
“We have nothing to do with the attack. It was probably the locals who are angry with the abuses of the soldiers and the destruction brought about by the military offensives in Maguindanao. Never in the history of Maguindanao, not even in the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, that the Muslims had been affected so much by military campaign. Civilians houses are burned and our mosques destroyed by the government offensives,” Eid Kabalu, a senior MILF leader, said in a separate interview.
He also accused Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, of the Muslim autonomous region, and his brother, Gov. Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., of Maguindanao, of failing to address the worsening situation in the province and the alleged human rights violations by the military.
“The people cannot even talk to them because they are always away. They have not visited the evacuation areas or do something about the plight of the refugees or address the human rights abuses by soldiers not only in the province, but the whole of the autonomous region,” Kabalu said, an accusation previously denied by the Ampatuans, who belong to one of the most influential political clans in Mindanao.
The MILF said more than 600,000 mostly Muslims have been displaced by government offensive in Mindanao. The Muslim autonomous region has previously said that it was addressing the problems in Maguindanao and in the past had sent food aid to different refugee shelters across the province.
Maguindanao is one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. The others are Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Lanao. (Mindanao Examiner)