RP Troops Surround MILF Lairs In Basilan Island

July 24, 2007 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

BASILAN ISLAND (Mindanao Examiner / 24 Jul) – Philippine troops have surrounded the lairs of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and were preparing to launch punitive actions against rebels who decapitated ten marine soldiers in Basilan island.

The soldiers were among 14 killed in a firefight July 10 in Al-Barka town, a known MILF stronghold, while searching for a kidnapped Italian Catholic priest Giancarlo Bossi.

The 57-year old priest was freed July 19 by rogue MILF rebels in Lanao del Norte province in Mindanao.

Bossi said he was never taken to Basilan island by his captors, who told him they were Abu Sayyaf militants.

Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon has ordered troops to mount punitive actions after the MILF ignored a one-week ultimatum which ended Sunday to surrender those behind the killings.

He said more soldiers were also deployed in some areas in Basilan other than Al-Barka to prevent the escalation of fighting should the offensives begin.

“Somehow, something must give in. I am not threatening, but our purpose here is simply to punish the perpetrators of the barbaric acts,” Esperon said. “If we do not punish the ‘beheaders’ there would be future ‘beheaders’ because they will think that beheading people is perfectly alright.”

The MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with the Arroyo government, denied beheading the soldiers, saying, the bodies were left behind intact after security and rebel forces agreed to a cease-fire.


Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said rebels forces are in heightened alert in Basilan and ready to defend themselves from any military offensive.

A Muslim human rights group, SUARA Bangsamoro, has expressed concerns that any fighting between government soldiers and rebels may escalate and affect the peace process in Mindanao.

“The peace talks will definitely be derailed given the punitive stance of the military following the incident. What we fear is the detrimental consequences on Moro civilians.”

“The escalation of military operations against MILF will definitely cause grave human rights violation against civilians, massive evacuation of innocent people, warrant-less arrest and abductions, and summary executions of civilians suspected as terrorists,” said Abubakar Uy, SUARA Bangsamoro Secretary General for Southern Mindanao Region. (With reports from Juley Reyes and Juan Magtanggol)

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