Sunday, August 16, 2009

2 Philippine military choppers hit by enemy fire in Basilan province

A military photo shows a pilot inspecting one of two Philippine Air Force UH-1H choppers hit by enemy fire on Sunday, August 16, 2009 while flying over the southern province of Basilan, scene of a recent fighting that killed 43 soldiers and Abu Sayyaf militants. (Mindanao Examiner)

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 16, 2009) – Two Philippine military helicopters came under fire Sunday and were forced to land on a remote village in the southern province of Basilan, officials said.

Officials said two television cameramen for the state-run NBN Television who were filming with senior military commanders were hurt in the landing near Lamitan City.

There were no reports of serious injuries, but the choppers were hit by bullets believed fired from automatic rifles.

“The choppers, both UH1H, were flying over Lamitan when it came under fire. We still don’t know who were behind the attack – it could be the Abu Sayyaf or Moro rebels,” said Army First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, a spokeswoman for the Western Mindanao Command.

Cacho did not say how many passengers were in the aircrafts, but among them were a marine general and his aides.

She said the choppers were heading to the Kurelem, scene of a recent fighting between government troops and Abu Sayyaf militants in the town of Ungkaya Pukan. The fighting on Wednesday killed at least 43 soldiers and militants.

No individual of group claimed responsibility for the attack that occurred at around 11.30 a.m. near the village of Tumasib. Military operations against the Abu Sayyaf still continue in Basilan, several nautical miles south of Zamboanga City. (Mindanao Examiner)

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