Bodies Of Slain Marines Flown To Manila

August 20, 2007 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Philippine Marines carry Monday Aug. 20, 2007 sealed caskets containing bodies of soldiers in Zamboanga City. Fifteen soldiers were killed by Abu Sayyaf militants in a firefight in Basilan island. The bodies were flown to Manila by a military transport plane and will be given full honors Tuesday. (Mindanao Examiner Photo Service)


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 20 Aug) – The bodies of 13 Filipino soldiers slain in fierce fighting with Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines were flown to Manila on Monday, as troops continue to hunt for militants blamed for terrorism and kidnappings in the troubled region.

The bodies were in sealed caskets and will be brought to a military base where their grieving families are waiting. “They should finish off the Abu Sayyaf,” said Sonia Lopez, a sister of one of those killed in the fighting last week in Basilan island.

Army Lt. Gen. Eugenio Cedo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, led soldiers in a solemn ceremony in Zamboanga City to honor those killed.

“They are our heroes. They died fighting to protect the people from terrorism,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

Cedo said troops were pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan as well as in Jolo island in the Sulu Archipelago, where 27 soldiers were also killed in clashes. “The operations are continuing and we will not stop until the terrorists are destroyed,” he said.

Fifteen soldiers were killed in Basilan after security forces assaulted an Abu Sayyaf base near Ungkaya Pukan town.

The military said as many as 30 gunmen were slain in the fighting, but only seven bodies had been recovered, including two Abu Sayyaf sub-leaders tagged as behind the beheading of ten Marines in a firefight in July in Al-Barka town.

Mayor Joel Maturan, of Ungkaya Pukan town, also denied reports published by one newspaper in Manila which quoted him as saying that soldiers killed in the fighting were like “sitting ducks”. “I did not say that,” he said at a press conference in Zamboanga City.

Cedo also criticized the newspaper about the account of its reports. “It was false,” he said in the news conference.

Marines Brig. Gen. Juancho Sabban, commander of a task force in-charged of pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, also decried the report. “Our soldiers are not sitting ducks. They fought gallantry,” he said in Basilan, adding, troops captured an Abu Sayyaf camp after the battle.

Four Marine officers who were with the mayor denied the same reports during the press conference held at the Philippine Air Force base. Cedo ended the press conference with calls for responsible reporting. (Mindanao Examiner)


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