Troops attack Moro rebs hideout in Sibugay: 6 killed, 40 wounded PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 17:33

Two OV-10 bombers of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) bombarded a rebel stronghold in Zamboanga Sibugay Monday, killing at least six lawless elements who occupied several villages, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo Oban said.

Oban said the aerial bombardment was supported by Philippine Army (PA) infantry men on the ground.

He said the attacks were directed at the camp of the Moro bandits in the village of Labatan in Payao town starting 10:00 am.

Oban told reporters during an early evening news conference, that there were two soldiers killed in the battle, making it a total of 8 persons killed. Four soldiers were wounded while 40 were hurt on the lawless elements side.

Oban said military operations were still going on in Basilan. “We have crafted objective deliberate and calibrated response. We just have to couple this with good intelligence work,” he said.

In a related development, Oban said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin is attending the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) Defense Minister’s Meeting in Indonesia.

“I was just talking to him and updating him about the situation in Basilan,” Oban told reporters.

Some 200 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) members occupied a public school and prevented residents from leaving several villages in Olutanga Island in Zamboanga Sibugay province last Saturday.

Residents confirmed that at least 200 MILF rebels occupied the Samonte Elementary School in Barangay Samonte, Talusan town last Saturday, causing tension on Olutanga Island.

The military operations target bandit leader Wanning Abdusalam and 10 others who have criminal cases for kidnapping, extortion and serious illegal detention issued by 9th Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 24 in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay by Judge Ruben Maraon.

The other accomplices of Abudasalam are Talib Jail Indal, Datu Saramain, Tareed Mangunda, Morsede Jalal, Harid Andaya, Pendatun Datukali, Mohmim Karim, Alnajer Sali, a certain Putot and Ogis Jakaria.

Major Harold Cabunoc, acting Army spokesman, said the assault staged by about 200 combined Army and police forces was preceded by a series of airstrikes by Philippine Air Force (PAF) helicopter gunships which unleashed air-to-ground rockets at the mountain lair of Juaning Abdulsalam, leader of a 100-man kidnap group in Taib Sub Village, Labatan Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Following the airstrikes which began at 11:30 a.m. was the pincher attack by a column of armored vehicles armed with .50 caliber machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

There was no immediate report of casualties on the side of the kidnappers.

Cabunoc called the attack as “law enforcement operation to arrest notorious kidnapping group led by Juaning Abdulsalam.”

Army chief Lt. Gen. Arturo Ortiz ordered the attack “to pursue all lawless elements” in the area.

At the same time, Ortiz reminded military commanders not to break the existing ceasefire between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) as the combat operation is targeted only on lawless elements.

Cabunoc said the troops are out to capture the heavily armed kidnappers to enforce the law and not to violate the ceasefire.