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MILF stops comments on Mamasapano clash, issues gag order on men

/ 05:52 PM September 15, 2015

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Tuesday declined to issue further statements on the January 25 Mamasapano clash – in which, more than 60 people, including 44 elite policemen were killed.

“It’s already a closed case. We don’t want to ignite any more problem,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF peace negotiator, said when asked about the “alternative truth” being pursued by the Aquino administration, and the speculation over who exactly killed the targeted terror suspect, Zulkifli Bin Hir, alias Marwan.

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Iqbal said MILF ground commanders and forces were also told not to issue statements anymore relative to the Mamasapano carnage.

In an earlier investigation report, the MILF had claimed Indonesian terror suspect Marwan was shot dead by his aides and not by members of the Special Action Force.

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The report did not name the aides but other sources identified them as Datucan Singgagao and Candao Langalan.

In the same investigation report, the MILF cited sources, who said that Marwan was already dead when SAF troopers arrived at his hut in Mamasapano.

The MILF probers said they also found no indication of a gun battle between Marwan and the SAF men.

A government source, who did not want to be identified for not having been assigned to speak on the Mamasapano encounter, said the MILF could have helped preserve Marwan’s hut so that its claim on who killed Marwan could be established.

The same source, who was privy to the operation, said the MILF could not just brush aside the issue because of so many questions left unanswered.

“We have lost many lives there. The participation of the MILF remains unclear. And if we will close the case, we have to make sure it won’t happen again,” the source said.

In Zamboanga City, an elite police commander – whose men were among those killed in the Mamapasano clash, said witnesses should corroborate the “alternative truth” claim over the tragic battle.

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“They should come out with witnesses,” Supt. Reynald Arino, commanding officer of the 5th Special Action Force Battalion (5th SAB), said.

Arino lost 35 men, who belonged to the 55th Special Action Force, during the clash.

He maintained that Marwan was killed by SAF commandos.

“We have pieces of evidence from start to finish. Those claiming otherwise should better present witnesses,” Arino said as he questioned those wanting to put aside the efforts of the SAF in getting Marwan.

Marilyn Tayrus, one of the sisters of slain Senior Insp. Reiner Tayrus, said claims about an alternative truth were just made to cover up the lapses made by top officials in connection with the Mamasapano operation.

“(President Aquino’s) alternative truth that MILF (forces) and not the SAF killed Marwan worsened our pains,” she said.

“I don’t know what (Aquino) wanted to bring out,” she added.

Marilyn said government should bring justice to those who died in the clash and not make nonsensical claims.

(With a report from Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao)

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TAGS: Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Benigno Aquino III, biff, Candao Langalan, clash, covert operations, Datucan Singgagao, Encounter, gun battle, investigation, law enforcement, Mamasapano carnage, Mamasapano encounter, Mamasapano massacre, Mamasapano mission, manhunt for terrorists, Marwan, MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, news, Philippine Government, Philippine National Police, Philippine president, pursuit operations, Special Action Force, terror suspects, Zulkifli bin Hir
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