Sunday, September 25, 2011

13 dead in fresh fighting in the Philippines

Marines soldiers patrol Sulu province in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Sept. 25, 2011) – At least 13 people were dead after government troops clashed early Sunday with Moro rebels in the southern Philippine province of Sulu, officials told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.

Officials said at least 5 soldiers were also wounded in the fighting that erupted in the village called Kabungkol in Talipao town after rebel forces attacked a marine post in the area.

Among the dead were a marine lieutenant and another soldier, and 11 rebels had been slain in the fighting and their bodies recovered, including seven automatic weapons.

Sporadic fighting was reported until morning and that more troops were sent to pursue rebels who split into several smaller groups and engaged soldiers in running gun battle in the town’s hinterlands.

The motive of the attack is still unknown and the military could not say whether the gunmen were members of the Moro National Liberation Front or Abu Sayyaf.

In July, Abu Sayyaf rebels killed seven marines, two of them decapitated, in fierce gun battle the town of Patikul. The soldiers were tracking down kidnapped victims - two Filipino fishermen, an Indian national and a Malaysian citizen - when they ran into an Abu Sayyaf lair and fighting erupted.

A cell phone video taken by the Abu Sayyaf showed rebels pursuing the marines and gunning them down one by one, and stripping them of their uniforms and boots. A copy of the 30-miniute video was intercepted by the police from an Abu Sayyaf courier in Sulu.

The military reported that 70 armed men were involved in the clash with troops for almost two hours and that some women, armed with automatic weapons, also attacked them.

But the Abu Sayyaf video showed a little over a dozen young rebels, some with long hairs, engaged soldiers in the fighting. The Abu Sayyaf has been involved in terrorism and kidnappings for ransom in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner)

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