Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Filipinos accuse US soldier of grave threats, physical injuries in Zamboanga City

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / August 5, 2009) – Three Filipino women accused a US soldier of grave threats and physical injuries in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines, reports said on Wednesday.

The women said the soldier was drunk and pointed his gun to them after a traffic altercation early Wednesday in downtown Zamboanga. The unnamed serviceman also rammed his truck to the motorcycle the women were using, prompting them to seek police help, the Radio Mindanao Network reported.

Police did not release the name of the soldier, but said it would file charges against the serviceman, who is part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force which is assisting the local military in fighting terrorism in the southern Philippines.

There was no immediate statement from military officials about the accusations, but it was not the first time that US soldiers were dragged in scandals. In 2007, US troops stationed in Sulu province forcibly closed down a government hospital in Panamao town.

Last year, a US soldier driving a jeep hit a man outside a military base in Zamboanga City and fled the scene before policemen could arrive to investigate. A teenager was also shot and seriously wounded by a US soldier while gathering firewood near a firing range in Zamboanga City.

US soldiers participating in previous military exercises with local troops in Zamboanga and Sulu also chased and detained journalists and prevented them from taking pictures and videos of the foreigners in public places.

Human rights groups also cited several cases involving US troops who participated in past joint military exercises with Filipino troops in Basilan and Sulu provinces. Among them the shooting of a Muslim villager, Buyung-Buyung Isnijal, by an American soldier identified by witnesses as a certain Sgt. Reggie Lane, who was accused of participating in a military operation on July 27, 2002 in Tuburan town in Basilan.

Militant groups also cited cases of shooting and maiming of civilians allegedly by US soldiers who accidentally fired at civilians in the community while on a test missions. One case was the shooting and wounding of Arsid Baharun in Zamboanga City while soldiers were conducting a marksmanship practice in 2004, and the second was in September 2006 where shrapnel from a misfired bomb hit a 50-year old Muslim woman, Bizma Juhan in Indanan town in Sulu. (Mindanao Examiner)

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