3 suspected Abu Sayyaf men captured; reports of torture by soldiers surface
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Military forces captured three suspected Abu Sayyaf members during an operation in Basilan, a military spokesperson said Wednesday.
But Major Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, did not provide details of the arrest, except that the three suspects were captured in Tipo-tipo town.
Major General Gerardo Barrientos, commander of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said the report was still “hazy” and what he knew was that the identities of the suspects were still being verified as of Wednesday.
“These three ASG suspects were still being subjected to appropriate inquiry and the report was still hazy. We leave that to the operational forces in Basilan to ascertain if they were indeed members of ASG,” Barrientos said.
The report on the arrest of the three suspected bandits came in the wake of claims of some civilians and a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Force that they were arrested in the course of the military operation, which came after the bloody clashes in Tipo-tipo that led to the killing of 18 soldiers.
The MILF man, Jong Aujal, said he went back to his home in Barangay Baguindan on Tuesday after having been granted permission by village officials so he could get his family’s belongings.
Aujal said that while he was gathering the things they left behind when they fled in haste, Marine soldiers suddenly barged in and dragged him out of his house.
“They took turns in kicking and hitting me until I could barely walk,” he said.
A civilian, Hakim Maruan, a son of an overseas Filipino worker, is now in critical condition after he was beaten black and blue by alleged soldiers when he returned to Baguindan to gather personal belongings. A 15-year old boy, identified only as Ibno, was reportedly killed.
Members of the International Monitoring Team, who have been securing Aujal and Maruan at a hospital declined to issue any comment.
Tan denied knowledge of any manhandling of suspects by soldiers in Basilan.
As this developed, Tan said more troops were sent to Basilan.
Barrientos said no soldier had been missing following Saturday’s bloody clash that also left 58 soldiers wounded.
“We have totally accounted for all of our forces,” he said. SFM
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