ZAMBOANGA CITY ? US forces joined Monday?s assault on a village of Maimbung, Sulu, where eight people, including two children and a pregnant woman, were killed, a survivor said.
Sandrawina Wahid said she saw four US soldiers when elite forces from the Navy and Army stormed Barangay Ipil.
Wahid said her husband, Pfc. Ibnol Wahid, was among those shot by government troops even after he told them that he was also a soldier on vacation with his family.
Wahid said that before the carnage, the troops burned down houses, including hers, and rounded up villagers.
?I was brought to the Navy boat and I saw the US personnel,? she said.
Wahid said one of the Filipino soldiers blindfolded her. ?I asked him what the blindfold was for and he said that so that I will not see what?s going to happen,? she told reporters in Sulu on Tuesday.
Maj. Gen. Nelson Allaga, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, branded Wahid?s claim as preposterous.
?There was no direct involvement of the Americans (during the operation). It is strictly prohibited,? Allaga said.
But Sulu Rep. Yusop Jikiri said the Maimbung case was not the first report of US forces taking part in operations against suspected terrorists.
Jikiri, who called for an investigation, said that during the operations against the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan, US forces were also accused of direct involvement.
Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan told the Inquirer that among those present in Maimbung were soldiers belonging to the Army?s Light Reaction Company (LRC) and the Navy?s Special Warfare Group (SWAG).
The LRC is composed of Filipino soldiers who received special training from US forces under the ?Balikatan? program.
Tan said soldiers indiscriminately fired at the residents and killed eight of them.
?I was informed that several residents were also taken from their houses and brought to a Philippine Navy boat before (the volley of) gunfire was heard,? he said.
But Allaga was consistent about the military?s claim that an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf had taken place.
?The commanders on the ground maintain that the encounter was a legitimate encounter with the ASG terror group,? he said in a statement.