Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Marine killed in Sayyaf attack in South RP

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 6, 2009) – Abu Sayyaf militants attacked government troops, killing a marine and wounding another in fierce clashes in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials told the independent regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner, on Tuesday.

Officials said the soldiers were to provide security for a group of military engineers repairing a bridge bombed by Moro rebels when gunmen attacked them at around 2.15 p.m. Monday in the village of Bato-Bato in Indanan town.

“They were going to clear the way and provide security for engineers who wanted to repair the Talatak bridge, but apparently, the enemy did not want the people to benefit from the bridge, hence, they prevented our engineers from repairing it,” said Marine Major Ramon David Hontiveros, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

Hontiveros blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the attack.

The bridge, linking Indanan to another town, was first blasted on September 29 and then rebels again bombed it on October 1 to prevent military vehicles from crossing into the town.

It was unknown what prompted the military to send army engineers in the area despite the pockets of fighting in the town, which is a known stronghold of Abu Sayyaf and Moro National Liberation Front rebels who are fighting for independence.

Suspected Moro rebels also attacked a marine post on Monday in the village of Bitan-ag in Panamao town, according to a regional military commander, Major General Benjamin Dolorfino.

He said rebels fired mortar bombs into the post of the 311th Marine Company, but there have been no reports of casualties.

A rebel leader, Madarang Sali, deputy supreme commander of the shadowy group called Bangsamoro National Liberation Army, said the fighting erupted after military forces shelled the stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Sali warned of more bloodshed and renewed threats to bomb military and civilian targets in the country in retaliation to government offensive in Sulu, one of five provinces in the troubled Muslim autonomous region.

The MNLF under Nur Misuari signed a peace accord with Manila in September 1996, but many of its members were disgruntled with the deal and accused the government of failing to uplift their living standards or to bring developments in Muslim areas in the troubled region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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