3 Muslims Killed In Zamboanga Restaurant Attack

November 16, 2007 at 5:19 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Nov. 16, 2007) – Three Muslim men were killed in an attack Friday inside a restaurant in the southern Filipino port city of Zamboanga, police said.

Police said two gunmen opened fire on the trio at around 8 a.m. near downtown Zamboanga. “The perpetrators escaped after the shooting. We still don’t know the motive of the attack,” a police telephone operator said.

He said the gunmen fled on two motorcycles along with three other companions who waited outside the diner.

Police said the victims were natives of Basilan province. Local television reports, quoting an unidentified police official, claimed the three men were followers of a politician in Basilan.

It was unknown whether the killings were connected with the assassination of Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar.

Akbar and his driver were killed in Tuesday bombing of the south entrance of the Philippine House of Representatives. Two other congressional aides were killed and 14 more injured, including two lawmakers.

A parked motorcycle rigged with explosives was detonated as Akbar was about to board his car. Security forces also killed three men linked to the bombing in a firefight Thursday in the village of Payatas near the House of Representatives.

Officials said three other accomplices and a police commando were wounded in the fighting after government forces raided a hideout of suspected bombers.

Police said one of those captured was a Muslim man who was a driver of former Basilan Rep. Abdulgani Salapuddin, Akbar’s political opponent. Salapuddin has denied any links to Akbar’s killing.

Soldiers and policemen recovered documents linked to the motorcycle used in the bombing. Police said the bombing targeted Akbar, but no group or individual claimed responsibility for the attack, although supporters of the slain lawmaker blamed his enemies and a faction in the military as behind the blast.

Soldiers had linked Akbar to the beheading of 14 marines early this year in Basilan’s Al-Barka town after a firefight with rebels. He was also branded as one of the founder of the militant group called Abu Sayyaf, but he had previously denied all allegations.

One of Akbar’s four wives, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, has appealed to President Gloria Arroyo to help them get justice. “Governor Jum Akbar is appealing to the President for the speedy solution to the murder. Those responsible must pay,” Chris Puno, the provincial spokesman, told the regional newspaper, the Mindanao Examiner.

Akbar, a rebel leader-turned-preacher, was buried Wednesday just outside their house in the village of Sumagdang in Basilan’s Isabela City. Akbar’s backyard is filled with placards from supporters asking for justice for the murder of the man many looked up as a great leader.

“He was truly a great leader. The sentiments of the people are very strong. The people are still mourning the loss of such a good man. It is now up to the government to find the perpetrators of this killing,” Puno said.

But some said Akbar was not a hero as what others portrayed him to be.

“You’re making him out as though the guy is some kind of ethereal hero…something which he most definitely is not! A lot of people may have loved him – profited from his rule – but a whole lot more are mighty pleased this all came about.”

“He is not a hero and most of all he was idolized by many in Basilan. The guy is dead. Leave him alone. The more you portray him as a martyr, the more that you shall hear the truth about him from people who actually lived in the Province he considered to be his own personal playpen,” an e-mail sent to the regional newspaper, Mindanao Examiner, said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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