Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sayyaf attack leaves 12 dead in southern Philippines

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 27, 2010) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf militants attacked early Saturday a small village in the southern Philippine province of Basilan, killing 12 people, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said ten villagers were also wounded in the attack which occurred at around 5:45 a.m. in the village of Tubigan in Maluso town. “The Abu Sayyaf attacked a group of government militiamen as a result one militiaman and nine civilians were killed,” said Army First Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, a regional military spokeswoman.

But police said 11 people were killed and ten more wounded after Moro rebels opened fire on a row of houses. It blamed the attack on the country’s largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which is currently negotiating peace with the government.

“MILF rebels attacked the village. Eleven people are dead and ten others were wounded,” said Senior Superintendent Antonio Mendoza, the Basilan police chief.

Mendoza said the attack was likely connected to a clan war. “The target of the rebel attack was the village chieftain,” he said, adding, the raid was connected to previous killings in the town, where rebels and militants are actively operating.

Other reports said a dozen people were killed in the raid. Mendoza said the attackers also torched several houses before retreating to the hinterlands.

Lieutenant General Benjamin Dolorfino, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said security forces were pursuing the attacks. “There is an ongoing operation in Basilan,” he said.

Authorities previously accused the MILF of conniving with the Abu Sayyaf and in many instances the rebels fought soldiers along side with militants, an accusation strongly denied by the secessionist group, which is fighting for self-determination. (Mindanao Examiner)

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