3 killed as MILF, gov’t troops clash in Basilan | Inquirer News
STUDENT HIT IN CROSSFIRE

3 killed as MILF, gov’t troops clash in Basilan

/ 05:15 AM November 10, 2022

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Three persons, including a 20-year old student recovering from the trauma of war, were killed in hostilities that erupted between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and government soldiers in Ungkaya Pukan town, Basilan, on Tuesday, military reports on Wednesday said.

Hapids Abdal, a freshman criminology student at the Universal College in Lamitan who survived war as a child, died in a crossfire during the fighting between troops of the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion and members of the MILF’s 114 Base Command.

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Abdal, as early as Oct. 2, sent a message to his teacher, asking to be excused from class because of the brewing hostilities in their village of Ulitan. The following day, he sent another message, still asking for the teacher’s consideration because of an ongoing military operation in their village and that they were fleeing their house. After the fighting cleared later Tuesday, his body was found, with bullet wounds on his chest.

“I don’t know what to say, I am speechless, all [our] hard work went down the drain. We are back to zero,” said Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumao-as, executive director of Save the Children of War in Basilan.

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“He was among the thousands of children who survived armed conflicts in Basilan,” Jumao-as said, referring to Abdal, who was one of the young beneficiaries when Save the Children started trauma healing sessions in 2004.

“He was just a boy, dreaming of becoming a policeman to serve the people. He begged for scholarships and our volunteers even passed the hat to raise money for his tuition,” she added.

Aside from Abdal, two others, Archie Buaya Sali Dugnu and Jiyad Arabain, identified as members of the MILF, were killed on Tuesday.

Appeal

Hadja Suada Asnawie, wife of Hadji Dan Asnawie, member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) parliament, pleaded to the military to refrain from instigating hostilities in Ulitan as the gains of the peace process would go to waste.

“These are innocent people, the majority of them are already scheduled for decommissioning,” she said, referring to members of the MILF’s armed wing, Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, in the village. She said local officials did all they could to stop the conflict that started long before the clash on Tuesday.

The military confirmed there was a clash in Ulitan but said the conflict started in September this year when three soldiers were killed in an ambush.

Brig. Gen. Arturo Rojas, acting chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said Ulitan had become a haven of wanted crime suspects, especially of the Abu Sayyaf responsible for the ambush.

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“That is where they are hiding,” he said.

Rojas said villagers had been allowed to return to Ulitan after the MILF sent a letter to the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities.

“It was approved, provided they will not bring in their firearms. But last night (Tuesday, Nov. 8), they brought in firearms and they fired at our troops first,” he said, stressing that the military did not violate the peace agreement.

Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman expressed dismay and sadness over the Ulitan clash and called for a ceasefire to ensure the safety of civilians. INQ

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