Officials said the attack triggered a 15-minute firefight Thursday night between army soldiers and rebels in the village of Salvo in Maguindanao’s Datu Saudi Ampatuan town and left one infantryman wounded.
“The attack occurred as troops were heading back to camp after attending the signing of a peace covenant among village leaders in the area. A village chieftain and another official who were behind the convoy were killed and one of our soldiers was also wounded in the attack perpetrated by Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels,” said Army Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Hao, a spokesman for the 6th Infantry Division.
He tagged MILF leader Mohiden Karialan as behind the attack. “At least 15 rebels were involved in the attack,” he said.
Hao identified those killed as Salik Guimba, village chieftain of Liab in Mamasapano town, and Nasser Mapangal, a village councilor.
But the MILF denied its commander was involved in the attack and spokesman Von Al Haq blamed Guimba’s political foes for the ambush. “The MILF has nothing to do with the attack and reports we gathered pointed to Guimba’s political enemies as behind the attack,” he said.
The motive of the attack was unknown, but it occurred ahead of village elections next week in the Philippines.
Elections in Mindanao are traditionally bloody with candidates and their followers attacking each other, especially in areas where politicians maintain private armed goons.
Monday’s elections are expected to be violent and the military have already deployed troops to guard polling areas and protect the voters.
The rebel group, which is fighting for decades for self-determination, has previously warned its members to stay away from elections, saying, it does not recognize the country’s political exercise.
The 12,000-strong MILF is currently negotiating peace with Manila in an effort to end bloody Muslim insurgency in the country’s restive, but mineral-rich southern region. (Mindanao Examiner)
Friday, October 22, 2010
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 22, 2010) – Two people were killed after Muslim rebels attacked a military convoy in the troubled region of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, officials said on Friday.