Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bridge, telecom tower bombed; 3 killed as fresh fighting erupts in South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 15, 2009) – Three gunmen were killed and six people wounded in a firefight in the southern Philippine island of Sulu, officials said Thursday.

The fighting in the village of Masjid Bayle in Kalingalang Caluang town on Wednesday afternoon wounded five soldiers and a gunman, said Marine Major Ramon David Hontiveros, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“Five soldiers are wounded in the fighting. Three unidentified gunmen were also killed and another wounded in Kalingalang (Caluang town),” he said.

He said later in the night, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants also bombed a bridge and a cell site of telecom giant Smart Communications in the town of Indanan. There were no reports of casualties in the twin attacks.

Smart Communications is a mobile phone and Internet service subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications.

The bombing destroyed the cell site and cutting off vital mobile communications and Internet service in Sulu, one of five provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region.

The attackers also bombed a bridge in near Bato-Bato village in the town making it impassable to vehicles. The bridge called Talatak connects the town to other areas in the province and is frequently used by the military in the deployment of soldiers fighting the Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels.

The bridge was also bombed twice since last month by militants and Moro rebels and had been repaired by army engineers recently. It was also the same bridge where rebels ambushed a military truck and killing a soldier.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but a shadowy rebel group called the Bangsamoro National Liberation Army has owned up many attacks in Sulu.

Sporadic clashes in the island have killed dozens of gunmen and soldiers, including two members of the US Special Forces since September after the military launched attacks against the Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front rebels during the Eid Fit’r, one of the most important Muslim celebrations after the holy month of Ramadan. US troops are deployed in Sulu since 2006 and helping the military defeat the Abu Sayyaf.

The MNLF has declared a holy war or jihad against the military for disrespecting the Muslims. Different Muslim groups also condemned the attack during the celebration of the Eid. (Mindanao Examiner)

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