ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 7, 2011) – At least seven gunmen were believed killed in a fierce firefight Thursday on an islet off the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga Sibugay, officials told the Mindanao Examiner.
Officials said the fighting broke out late in the afternoon after gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons on a group of policemen and soldiers who were serving a warrant for the arrest of a notorious bandit leader, Kamja Asdanal.
“The fighting was really intense and we have reports that at least seven gunmen were in the house and that they had fox holes inside. The house eventually burned and nobody escaped,” said Army Colonel Buenaventura Pascual, commander of a military anti-terror task force.
He said the fighting lasted for several hours and that the bodies of the slain gunmen are still under the rubble of the burned house. “We will clear the area in the morning,” Pascual said.
Pascual said among those killed in the fighting was Asdanal and his sons. He said villagers tipped off the military on the hideout of the bandit leader, whose wife and son and another woman were arrested Wednesday in nearby town of Ipil following a covert military operation.
The bandit leader and his sons were all involved in the string of attacks on police and military targets and behind the extortion activities in the provinces of Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga del Sur.
Last Tuesday, four gunmen boarded a provincial bus in Zamboanga Sibugay’s Tungawan town and shot dead an army major, his wife and a marshal. And robbed passengers and took a woman hostage before torching the bus.
It was not immediately known whether Asdanal’s group was involved in the attack. (Mindanao Examiner)