Friendly fire killed 6 soldiers in Sulu last month, probe reveals
MANILA, Philippines—The six soldiers of the Army’s Joint Special Operations Group who were killed in Sulu last month died not because of fighting with the Abu Sayyaf but with friendly howitzer fire, a military investigation revealed.
“The Western Mindanao Command has a Board of Inquiry on the incident that happened in Sulu wherein six soldiers were killed and it was found out that they died of friendly fire,” military spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala told reporters on Thursday.
The elite soldiers were supposed to reinforce the Marine Force Reconnaissance that was attacked by the Al-Qaeda linked militants last June 19 in Kaya village in Patikul town. The ambush killed one Marine officer and wounded 11 others.
Zagala could say in detail how the soldiers were killed, but confirmed that it was indeed a 105mm howitzer from the Marines that claimed their lives.
Reports said however that as the Marines battled the militants they called for fire support. Unfortunately the government forces fire hit the JSOG’s command post instead of the Abu Sayyaf position, killing six soldiers and wounding 13 others.
“It’s not intentional and it was an accident on the part of those who delivered fires. These things really happen; these are the realities of combat. Because of combat stress, mistakes were made,” Zagala said.
AFP Chief General Emmanuel Bautista, who received the report last Monday, was “saddened” with the findings.
It is up to the Chief of Staff to decide whether military personnel in the blunder will be held accountable, depending on the recommendations of the investigating body.
“It doesn’t mean that those who [were killed] died for no reason. They are still part of our campaign against the Abu Sayyaf Group,” Zagala said.
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