Police fail to find bodies of terrorists killed in Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – Police investigators went home empty-handed Saturday after religious and local leaders in the municipality of Parang in Sulu refused to show them the graves of alleged local and foreign terrorists the military claimed to have been killed in air strikes last Thursday.
“They were not able to convince the imams [Muslim religious leaders] to show them the grave sites. The imams strongly objected to the idea of digging out the buried cadavers because it’s against their religious beliefs,” Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra, chief of the police in Sulu, said.
Elders of the village of Lanao Dacula, also in Parang, told the police they would be desecrating the dead ff they exhumed the bodies.
Still, Freyra said, the police now know where the bodies were buried – near the site where Air Force planes dropped their bombs in the small hours of Thursday.
Freyra said one of the imams said there was only one gravesite with five bodies.
“The imams said the companions of the slain bandits hastily buried the bodies before fleeing,” he said.
“We were hoping to get specimen samples, but we also didn’t want to insist because it might ignite tension,” Freyra explained.
He said police on Friday recovered from the blast site some specimens “like samples of blood stains, some small traces of human flesh, patches and some shrapnel.”
Major General Noel Coballes, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, told the Inquirer they were leaving the investigation to the police, including DNA testing to prove the identities of the slain terrorist leaders.
Coballes denied reports that the bombing was conducted in Moro Islamic Liberation Front territory.
“There are no MILF rebels in the area, but it’s near the Moro National Liberation Front camp,” he said.
The MILF is having peace talks with the government. The MNLF, on the other hand, signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.
Meanwhile, Sulu Bantay Ceasefire coordinator Octavio Dinampo corrected an earlier report he made on Friday that civilian non-combatants were killed in Thursday’s air raids. No civilians were killed.
“The huts [of the civilians] had long been abandoned,” Dinampo said.
But Dinampo said a relative of Abu Sayyaf Gumbahali Jumdail alias Doc Abu had confirmed the death of the bandit leader.
“He died together with one Bangladeshi known as Mastal in the said hut that was converted into a makeshift clinic,” Dinampo said.
He also confirmed the deaths of Jemaah Islamiyah suspect Julkipli Adhir alias Marwan and Mobato Mufaiza alias Muawiyyah.
“As per verification from more than a couple of sources, including relatives of Jumdail, there were 28 persons within the perimeter of the said hut. Seven were killed, eight were wounded and the rest managed to flee unscathed,” Dinampo said. (The military claimed at least 15 terrorists were killed.)
He identified the four others who were killed only as Juliun, Muin, Asis and Robert.
He said those who survived the bombing buried the dead.
Contrary to military statements, Dinampo said, the bombs were dropped on the village of Lanao Dacula, not Duyan Kabaw.
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