Friendly fire killed 6 soldiers in Sulu –AFP PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 12 July 2014 11:49

The six soldiers who were killed during an encounter with the Abu Sayyaf last June 19 in Patikul, Sulu, didn’t die from enemy fire but from a howitzer shelling by their fellow soldiers, a military report said.

“This is unfortunate and this is not intentional,” said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, public affairs chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), on Thursday.

Zagala said an investigation commissioned by AFP Western Mindanao Command established that an artillery round, fired from a military 105 mm howitzer, killed and wounded members of the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG).

“[The report] showed that JSOG forces were killed because of friendly fire,” Zagala said, adding this could be due to “certain elements in combat such as the stress that those in conflict are undergoing.”

“The board of inquiry is there to find out where the mistakes were [and to] find out how to prevent such occurrence again in the future,” he said.

The report has already been submitted to the AFP chief Emmanuel Bautista.

At around 6:20 a.m. last June 19, troops from the 2nd Marine Brigade were on combat operation when they clashed with the notorious bandit group in Barangay Buhanginan. The clash left 1Lt. Roger Flores dead and 11 other Marine soldiers wounded.

Ten minutes later, the military reported that a mortar round, purportedly coming from the Abu Sayyaf, landed at the detachment of the JSOG in Barangay Kabuntakas. The incident left six JSOG personnel dead and 13 others wounded.

However, an investigation by the inquiry board showed that the JSOG detachment was hit by an 105 mm howitzer round that was fired from the 2nd Marine Brigade headquarters in Jolo town.

The accident was reportedly blamed on wrong coordinates given by the Marine soldiers when they requested for artillery support, but Zagala could not confirm this.

“I cannot say if it was wrong because I didn’t see the actual report,” he said.