Army blames MILF for latest ambush on soldiers in Lanao del Norte

Army blames MILF for latest ambush on soldiers in Lanao del Norte

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09:47 PM October 23rd, 2011

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By: Dona Z. Pazzibugan, October 23rd, 2011 09:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines—An Army spokesman said Sunday they suspect MILF rebels to be behind the ambush of a military convoy in Lanao del Norte that killed two soldiers (not three as initially reported) and wounded four others, including two officers who remain in critical condition.

Major Harold Cabunoc, the acting Army spokesman, said troops of the 5th Infantry Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Bagnus Gaerlan were ambushed about 11 a.m. Sunday while traversing the Tukuran-Parang Road in Barangay (village) Payong in Sultan Naga Dimaporo town.

Gaerlan, who was riding in a civilian vehicle, was unharmed. Those killed and injured, meanwhile, were on board a KM450 military truck.

“The identities of the assailants are unknown but the MILF has forces roaming around in the area. They don’t have an ‘area of temporary stay’ in that town,” Cabunoc said.

“If it is established that the MILF is behind the ambush, this is a clear ceasefire violation,” he said.

He said Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 104th Infantry Brigade, has dispatched reinforcements backed by armored vehicles to pursue the perpetrators.

According to Visaya, Gaerlan and his men were on their way to visit troops when they were ambushed.

The initial report reaching the Army said Gaerlan was on his way to facilitate the surrender of two MILF members.

Meanwhile, the Army said MILF rebels led by a certain Hassan Asnawi were behind the ambush of a group of rubber plantation workers in Basilan around dawn Sunday.

Five rubber plantation workers, including a government militia, were killed while eight others were wounded when about 40 MILF rebels ambushed their truck in sitio (settlement) Along-Along between Barangay Upper Cabengbeng and Barangay Sapah Bulak in Sumisip, Basilan around 5:30 a.m. Sunday.

Civilian active auxiliary (CAA) member Fernando Tantalo was off duty at the time of the ambush.

Cabunoc said those killed and injured were aboard a civilian truck owned by the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Inc. Development Cooperative (Tarbidc) that was used to haul rubber.

He said Army Scout Rangers were sent to go after MILF rebels.

Cabunoc said pursuit operations have been ongoing because according to ceasefire rules between the government and the MILF, the area where the ambush took place was not an “area of temporary stay” of the MILF.

He said the closest recognized MILF “areas of temporary stay” were in Barangays Baguinda and Guinanta.

Invoking the existing ceasefire agreement, the government did not pursue the MILF rebels who killed 19 Army Special Forces troops and wounded 14 others last Tuesday in Barangay Cambug in Albarka, Basilan.

The military, however, claimed the 41 Special Forces troops were four kilometers away from the recognized MILF “area of temporary stay” in Albarka when a large group of MILF rebels led by Dan Laksaw Asnawi ambushed them.

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