130 MILF Rebels, Sayyaf Militants Charged For Killing 14 Soldiers In South RP

July 28, 2007 at 1:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Policemen stand guard on their base in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Police forces, backed by soldiers, are preparing to arrest some 130 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and Abu Sayyaf militants tagged as behind the killing of 14 soldiers, ten of them beheaded in nearby Basilan island on July 10. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 28 Jul) – Philippine authorities have identified at least 130 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf militants as behind the killing of 14 soldiers, ten of them beheaded, in Basilan island.

The warrants for their arrest have been released by the court and security forces are now preparing to run after them. More than a hundred rebels, also implicated in the July 10 attack in Al-Barka town, are yet to be identified.

The military said the Abu Sayyaf group was also involved in the attack.

It was unknown how authorities got the names of rebels allegedly involved in the attack. But other reports said ten witnesses, mostly followers of politicians in Basilan island, have provided authorities with names of rebels and information about them.

The MILF has previously denied beheading the soldiers and said other armed groups, some of them, followers of local politicians, were behind the gruesome murders.

Sattar Alih, head of the MILF cease-fire monitoring team in Basilan island, said rebel forces withdrew from the battle scene, leaving the bodies of soldiers behind, after military and rebels agreed to a cease-fire.

Intelligence sources in Basilan have also implicated unnamed politicians who allegedly supplied the Abu Sayyaf and with mortar rockets, weapons and munitions during the fighting.

Their private armies allegedly fought against the military forces side-by-side with the MILF and that two gunmen had died in the skirmishes.

The gunmen were believed behind the mutilation of the slain soldiers.

More than 2,000 soldiers were sent to Basilan to help police in arresting those charged in court.

“The police will take the lead role in arresting those involved in the beheading with the military as a strong support force,” said Philippine military chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon.

Esperon on Friday called off a planned attack on MILF rebels who beheaded the soldiers to give way for a joint investigation.

The order came after President Gloria Arroyo met with top military and police commanders in Zamboanga City. Arroyo held a closed door meeting with military generals, headed by Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon and Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command.

Arroyo gave investigators until Tuesday to finish their report. She also ordered security forces to run after Abu Sayyaf militants whose group is tied to al-Qaeda terror network in Basilan and Jolo island.

It was the second time the military postponed the offensive since the MILF defied an ultimatum on Sunday for rebels to surrender. The postponement of offensives came days before the start of a three-day ASEAN summit in Manila on July 29. The MILF warned that any attacks on rebel forces in Basilan could spark sympathy attacks.

The MILF is the country’s largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate homeland in the strife-torn, but mineral-rich region of Mindanao. (Mindanao Examiner)

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