Death toll in Basilan ambush now 2 | Inquirer News

Death toll in Basilan ambush now 2

/ 04:35 AM August 15, 2023

A SAD DAY Military and police members of the Joint Peace and Security Team in Basilan condole with the family and relatives of Police Cpl. Abdurafiq Gafor Akalun. —PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JPST BASILAN

A SAD DAY Military and police members of the Joint Peace and Security Team in Basilan condole with the family and relatives of Police Cpl. Abdurafiq Gafor Akalun. —PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY JPST BASILAN

ZAMBOANGA CITY—The police officer who was wounded in an ambush in Basilan died while being treated in the hospital in Lamitan City on Sunday night, bringing to two the number of government troops killed in the Aug. 12 attack.

Police Cpl. Abdurafiq Gafor Akalun, who was a member of the Joint Peace and Security Team (JPST), was among the nine wounded when unidentified gunmen attacked their convoy during a visit to Ulitan village of Ungkaya Pukan town on Saturday, supposedly to prepare the area for a medical mission they were about to conduct.


Brig. Gen. Alvin Luzon, commanding officer of the Joint Task Force Basilan, and Akalun’s sister Marwa confirmed Akalun’s death on Sunday night.


Luzon said he was told by Marwa that Akalun, 46, “did not make it because of the severity of the wounds that he got” and had “suffered fractures in some of his bones.”

Akalun was buried on Monday in accordance with Islamic rites.

Luzon on Monday identified the slain soldier in the same attack as Private Marjhon Tenido, who was a native of Tukuran town in Zamboanga del Sur province. Tenido belonged to the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion based in Basilan that Luzon heads.

High alert

Akalun, on the other hand, was the first member of the peacekeeping force JPST to have died in an ambush in the province, said Police Col. John Cundo, operations chief of the Basilan Provincial Police Office.

“We are on high alert to secure the area to prevent a possible escalation of hostilities,” Cundo said.

Bangsamoro Parliament Member Hadji Dan Asnawie, also the commander of the 114th Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), immediately ordered his men in Basilan to “capture all those responsible in the ambush last Saturday, dead or alive.”


Asnawie, the brother-in-law of Akalun, said he felt sad that government forces were attacked when they were only out there to help the communities.

“These men in uniform were simply helping our people, they didn’t commit any crime,” he said. “We have been enjoying peace in Basilan, we have been trying to attain peace and suddenly, this incident,” he said.

Decorated officer

Akalun had received more than 30 medals and awards since he joined the police force in 2006, said Cundo.

He said the slain peacekeeper used to work under him when he, Cundo, headed the police provincial mobile force battalion in Lamitan City. Later, Akalun was assigned to Tipo-Tipo, also in Basilan, and when he was detailed in Sumisip town, he was tapped to be part of the JPST.

“He was kind, he was a good father to his son and a dedicated person to his job,” Cundo said.

According to Cundo, they were already pursuing a number of persons of interest behind Saturday’s ambush.


Asnawie also directed his men to cooperate with the police and military in pursuing the suspects. “Regardless their group’s affiliations or organization, since they committed the crime, they have to answer for it,” Asnawie said, referring to the perpetrators.

According to Asnawie, the MILF in Basilan already had at least four suspects behind the ambush but he declined to provide details. However, he said the suspected attackers were “perennial troublemakers who are trying to control people and communities.” INQ


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TAGS: Army-NPA clash, Basilan ambush, Philippine Army

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