RP Flags Fly At Half-Mast In Sulu To Mourn Killings Of Civilians

February 5, 2008 at 3:10 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 05, 2008) – Philippine flags in the southern province of Sulu were flown at half-mast on Tuesday to mourn the death of innocent civilians killed during a military operation against the Abu Sayyaf group tied to Jemaah Islamiya.

Provincial government officials, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, condemned the killings and said they will file criminal charges against those involved in the raid. The Provincial Legislative Council also passed a resolution condemning the killings.

“Innocent civilians were killed. The children were shot in the head. We condemned the killings and those soldiers involved in the murder of innocent people must be charged in court and pay for their crimes,” Tan said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

The Philippine military on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the killing of 8 people in fierce clashes between security forces and Abu Sayyaf militants in Sulu province.

Seven of those killed in the town of Maimbung were civilians — three adults, two children and two teenagers — and an off duty army soldier.

“The Philippine flags were flown at half-mast in Sulu to mourn the death of the civilians,” Tan said.

Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, said two soldiers and three militants, including an Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Abu Muktadil, were killed in the fighting.

“It was a legitimate encounter. As far as we are concerned, troops clashed with the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya. We have recovered the bodies of Muktadil,” he said, adding, they were also investigating whether the slain civilians were killed in the cross-fire or not.

Security officials said troops were tracking down a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao in Maimbung town at dawn Monday when they clashed with alleged Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants in the village of Ipil where the eight bodies had been found later in the day.

It was not immediately known whether the 45-year old trader is being held in Maimbung town. Lao, who buys and sells Malaysian goods, was kidnapped Jan. 28 outside her home in Jolo town.

But a village leader, Rahsi Agas, has accused troops of killing the civilians. “They were just seaweed farmers and not members of the Abu Sayyaf,” he told reporters in Sulu.

He said some of those killed were shot at sea while trying to escape the fighting on boat. The soldiers who raided the village were members of the Army’s Light Reaction Company, trained by US forces, and Navy’s Special Warfare Group.

Those killed were identified as Marisa Payian, 4; Wedme Lahim, 9; Alnalyn Lahim, 15; Sulayman Hakob, 17; Kirah Lahim, 45; Eldisim Lahim, 43; Narcia Abon, 24; all civilians and Pfc. Ibnul Wahid, of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division. (With a report from Nickee Butlangan)


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