RP Military Vows To Pursue Killers Of Soldiers

August 5, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment





Some 500 Marines arrive Saturday Aug. 4, 2007 in the southern Philippine island of Basilan to help police forces hunt down Moro rebels implicated in the killing of 14 soldiers, ten of whom beheaded and mutilated, in an ambush July 10 in the mountain town of Al-Barka. More than 2,500 troops are already on the island searching for some 130 rebels charged with murder. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)

 

BASILAN ISLAND, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 05 Aug) – The Philippine military vowed to pursue Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels tagged as behind the killing of 14 Marines in the southern island of Basilan.

The soldiers were killed in fierce fighting on July 10 after they strayed inside a MILF territory in the hinterland town of Al-Barka. Ten of the soldiers were beheaded.

The military demanded the MILF to surrender the rebels behind the killings, but the rebel group said the fighting was a legitimate encounter. The MILF also denied beheading the soldiers and blamed the Abu Sayyaf for the grisly killings.

More than 100 mostly MILF rebels were charged with murder for the killing of the soldiers, but many also in the list provided by local politicians were either their enemies or innocent civilians.

As many as 6,000 people have fled their homes in Basilan because of an impending punitive action, although the offensive had been called off three times already to pave way for independent investigations.

“The operation will push through. We will go after the perpetrators. We will go straight to the frontlines. We will put our best-equipped and best-trained people in the frontlines and that is how we will achieve our mission,” Brigadier General Juancho Sabban, commander of military task force tasked to run after the killers of the soldiers.

He said more than 3,000 soldiers are in Basilan island and are helping the police hunt down those implicated in the killings.

Some 500 Marines, pulled out from Jolo island, arrived in Basilan on Friday.

“We have more than enough troops right now. If we need more men then other units can provide. We want justice be served and justice will be given to our Marine heroes,” Sabban said. “Our targets are the criminals who mercilessly ambushed and beheaded out Marines.”

The MILF, which is negotiating peace with the Arroyo government, said it will not surrender any of its fighters and alerted rebel forces on the island against military offensive.

Mohagher Iqbal, chief MILF peace negotiator, said any attack on his group would violate a six-year old fragile truce and the fighting could hurt the peace talks. The MILF is the largest Muslim rebel group fighting for a separate homeland in the restive southern region. (Mark Navales)

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