MILF Urges Probe To Sulu Killings

February 6, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment


Muslim villagers look at corpses of civilians allegedly killed by members of the Philippine Navy’s Special Warfare Group and Philippine Army’ Light Reaction Company in Sulu province. Seven civilians, including two children and two teenagers, and an off-duty soldier were killed early Monday during a military raid on a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout on a fishing village in Maimbung town. Two soldiers and three alleged militants were also killed in the fighting. Sulu Governor Sakur Tan and provincial officials strongly condemn the killings of innocent civilians and vowed to prosecute the soldiers involved in the mass murder. (Mindanao Examiner Photo/Nickee Butlangan)
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 06, 2008) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), urged Manila to investigate accusations that government troops killed innocent civilians during a military operation in the southern island of Sulu.

Seven Muslims, among them two children and two teenagers, including a pregnant woman and an off-duty soldier, were killed at dawn Monday in the fishing village of Ipil in Maimbung town during a military raid on a suspected Abu Sayyaf hideout.
“This sad incident should be investigated properly. Finding the truth is very important in this investigation so that justice may prevail,” Eid Kabalu, an MILF spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.
The military said two soldiers and three militants were also killed in the clash, but security officials ordered a probe into the slaying of the civilians. Some of those killed were shot in the head at close range, families and relatives of the victims said.
Maj. Gen. Ruben Rafael, commander of an anti-terror task force in Sulu province, said the fighting in the town was a legitimate encounter.
Security officials said troops were tracking down a kidnapped trader Rosalie Lao in the town 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.
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 said. 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.
Survivors of the carnage said troops had attacked them, firing automatic weapons and rifle grenades, as they fled to safety in the dark. The soldiers were part of a specialized unit of the military.
Provincial government officials, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, condemned the killings of the civilians and said the perpetrators must be held to account.
“We will not tolerate this and justice should prevail. The perpetrators of these dastardly act must be punished and pay for their crimes,” he said.Flags in the southern province were flown at half staff since Tuesday to mourn the death of the civilians.
The Provincial Legislative Council also passed a resolution condemning the killings.
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.
The human rights group, Suara Bangsamoro, also condemned the killings and urged Congress and the Senate to investigate the incident. The Commission on Human Rights sent a team of investigators to Sulu to probe the killings of the civilians. (With reports from Nickee Butlangan and Juan Magtanggol)

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