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MILF: 9 killed in Cotabato drug raid massacre victims

/ 05:18 AM May 30, 2018

MATALAM, North Cotabato — A committee that monitors truce compliance by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the military is now investigating the killings of nine men tagged by police as drug suspects but who MILF leaders said belonged to their group and were massacre victims.

A ranking military officer appealed for calm, saying investigators should be given enough time to ferret out the truth about the killings of the nine men during an antidrug operation by a team of policemen and soldiers.

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Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, head of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division (ID) based in Maguindanao province, said the military was represented in the joint ceasefire committee which monitors compliance with a truce that formed part of a peace agreement between the MILF and the government.

MILF protest

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The MILF, Sobejana said, sought the investigation.

MILF leaders had said they were lodging a protest against policemen and soldiers of the 6th ID who were involved in the drug raid that led to the killings of nine MILF members on Friday and Saturday in the village of Kilada here.

Butch Malang, head of the MILF Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH), said the nine fatalities were disarmed then shot at close range.

But police said the slain men were drug suspects who fought it out during an antidrug operation that started on Friday and went on until the wee hours of Saturday.

Police said drugs and guns were seized although they could not declare the volume of confiscated drugs.

Chief Insp. Sunny Leoncito, Matalam police chief, said the raiding team was serving a search warrant issued by Judge Alandrex Betoya, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 16, on Dadting Kasan and Intan Aban, a female MILF member.

Leoncito said the police-military team was on its way to the village of Kilada, where Kasan and Aban lived, but was met with heavy gunfire.

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An hourlong gunfight led to the wounding and subsequent death of seven suspects on Friday.

He said the team was forced to withdraw because of the superior firepower of the suspects and returned on Saturday when two more suspects were killed.

But Malang, in a letter to Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF panel overseeing the implementation of the peace agreement, said the dead men belonged to the 105th base command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (Biaf), the armed wing of the MILF.

‘Massacred’

Malang said the men had not fired but yielded their guns.

“After the Biaf troops were disarmed, they were deliberately shot by the operatives,” Malang said in the letter.

Von Al-Haq, Biaf spokesperson, said: “They were shot after they were disarmed when they could no more defend themselves,” said Al-Haq. “So, they were massacred.”

Malang said no drugs were recovered during the raid, contrary to the claim of police. —Edwin Fernandez

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TAGS: drug killings, EJKs, extrajudicial killings, MILF drug suspects, war on drugs
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