A backhoe scoops earth in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines. Security officials say a similar equipment was torched by suspected Moro rebels in the town of Sibuco in the province on Wednesday, April 13, 2011. No one was reported hurt or killed in the raid. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 13, 2011) – Suspected Moro rebels torched construction equipment in an attack Wednesday in Zamboanga del Norte province in the southern Philippines, officials said.
Officials said there were no reports of casualties in the raid that occurred at around 2.30 p.m. in the village of Panganuran in Sibuco town. The attackers were believed members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front extorting money from private contractors working on road projects in the area.
One backhoe was reported burned by rebels who fled to the hinterlands after the attack. And soldiers were sent to track down the raiders, but security forces have been doubled near the border of Zamboanga City to prevent rebels from straying here.
“We have forces in the border just to ensure that no lawless elements may be able to sneak into Zamboanga City as troops hunt down those responsible in the attack,” Army Colonel Buenaventura Pascual, commander of a military anti-terror task force, told the Mindanao Examiner.
Authorities have blamed rebels for the spate of attacks and extortion activities in Zamboanga peninsula which is composed of the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga City.
Rebels were also tagged as behind the series of kidnappings in the area. Just early this year, rebels freed a kidnapped ten-year old boy Ceekim Gomonit after three months in captivity. But his grandmother was killed after her family failed to pay ransom. The duo was kidnapped in Pagadian City in Zamboanga del Sur.
Moro rebels also kidnapped an Italian missionary Father Michael Sinnot inside his house in Pagadian City and freed him a month later in Zamboanga City after private negotiators paid huge ransom.
Kidnappings-for-ransom has become a lucrative business for rebels in Mindanao with most of the collected monies used to purchase weapons in the troubled region in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)