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64 bodies recovered from clash site in Maguindanao–MILF man

/ 06:51 PM January 29, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines—A member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) stood by his count that 64 bodies were recovered in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, late Monday afternoon.

But Bruce Antao, a member of the field investigating team of the MILF in the area, said the report his group provided the front’s higher headquarters might have inadvertently included other fatalities wearing either half or full fatigue uniforms.

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Antao said he submitted two separate counts—37 fatalities in Sitio Manggapang, Barangay Tukanalipao and 27 in Sitio Inugug, Barangay Pidsandawan—even prior to the retrieval of two more bodies in half fatigue uniform from the Kabulnan River.

Antao said he had so reported because most of the bodies he had counted were in full or half fatigue uniforms, and that no other label was thought of except that they were slain SAF members.

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Forty-two bodies were flown to Manila Monday for posthumous honors and final homilies in Camp Crame held for the members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force slain in the bloody clash with Moro rebels in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

Two more bodies—those of the Muslim SAF members PO3 Jedz-in A. Asjali and PO2 Amman M. Esmula—were not included, since they were buried Wednesday in Zamboanga City, in keeping with the Muslim tradition of burying the dead possibly within one day.

Antao also said local civilian “informants” in the company of the police commandos might have also worn half-fatigue uniforms, it being common in Moro communities, and that those might have been among the counted bodies.

After a day, Antao said, the story cropped up on the alleged involvement of some local contacts as informants. “Some described them as Cafgus (the paramIlitary Civilian Armed Forces Geographic Unit) maybe for lack of term to assign them,” he said referring to other bodies found alongside the slain SAF policemen.

He said he found out that bodies of Muslims slain in the encounter were buried immediately.

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, bloodshed, Bruce Antao, carnage, clash, Death Toll, Encounter, gun battle, law enforcement, Manhunt, Massacre, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, News, Philippine National Police, pursuit operation, Regions, serving of an arrest warrant, Special Action Force, warrant of arrest
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