Sunday, October 23, 2011

5 civilians killed in Basilan ambush

Rubber farmers drive past a military checkpoint in Basilan province. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

BASILAN (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 23, 2011) – Five rubber farm workers were killed and eight others wounded after gunmen ambushed a truck on Sunday in the restive Muslim province of Basilan in the southern Philippines, security official said.

Officials said the attack occurred at around 5:30 a.m. near the village of Sapah Bulak in Sumisip town.

Most of the victims were rubber tree tappers of the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Incorporated Development Cooperative, said Army Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, a spokesman for the Western Mindanao Command.

“We still don’t know who was behind the ambush, but those killed were just rubber tree tappers in Sumisip,” he told the Mindanao Examiner, adding one of those dead was a government militia who was escorting the workers.

No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the town is a known lair of Abu Sayyaf militants with links to Al-Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya, and the larger Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels.

A landmine explosion on Saturday also wounded a government soldier and two army militias in the town of Maluso following a firefight with rebels.

Just last month, four people were killed and five others wounded in an Abu Sayyaf raid on Upper Benengbengan in Sumisip town. The attack, led by Radzmer Jannatul, killed five civilians, an army soldier and a government militia.

The MILF said it was not involved in the attack. “The MILF has nothing to do with it,” Von Al-Haq, a rebel spokesman said.

The ambush occurred just as security forces were pursuing MILF rebels blamed for the killings of 19 soldiers in fierce battle Tuesday in Basilan’s Al-Barka town. The fighting also sparked a series of gun battle in Zamboanga Sibugay province that left 8 soldiers and policemen dead and six more wounded. (Mindanao Examiner)

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