Troops capture MNLF camp, seized boats with guns, ammos, uniforms: 45 more MNLF fighters captured PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 September 2013 12:50

Government troops overran yesterday a camp set up by MNLF forces at an islet called Sumatra off Talon-Talon where soldiers recovered a wooden-hulled boat and some smaller seacraft called “jungkung” which the rebels used when they landed Zamboanga City from Sulu and Basilan at dawn of September 9, the start of the siege.

Sumatra is nearer to Talon-Talon, but also accessible to Mariki through small inlets and is surrounded by mangroves.

Reports disclosed that the vessel and “jungkungs” are stained with blood. Firearms and ammunition, MNLF uniform and maps of Zamboanga City and documents were retrieved by soldiers from some of the seacraft.

The boat can carry more than 100 people and each “jungkung” has a capacity of 30 passengers.

Troops shelled the Sumatra area and other spots nearby with light artilleries starting 4:30 a.m. up to 5 a.m. as the remaining MNLF Misuari loyalists led by Habier Malik retreated thereat from Sta. Barbara, Sta. Catalina and Rio Hondo.

Soldiers also recovered some bodies of MNLF rebels.

As the crisis entered its 18th day, six more hostages were rescued by sodliers in the battleground yesterday morning and 45 more MNLF  rebels were captured.

The captured rebels, some of them in underwear and wounded,  were brought to the central police station after proper documentation when they were under military custody.

The MNLF rebels underwent paraffin test conducted by members of the PNP’s Scene of the Crime Operatives.

The capture of the 45 came few hours after 37 others surrendered last Wednesday.

As of press time, an unconfirmed report disclosed that several others rebels were captured by government forces at the battle ground at noon yesterday

Earlier, some MNLF rebels holding out in this city have vowed to fight and die as martyrs.

Reports quoted military officials as saying that some of the MNLF fighters taunted soldiers, shouting: “Come here so we can behead you!”.

Asked what the Army’s elite troopers shouted back, Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, the military spokesman, said: “None.”

“If they did, they would have compromised their positions. They should not be distracted from their primary mission,” Zagala told the Philippines Inquirer while narrating what junior officers had told him.

A total of 128 combatants—110 MNLF rebels and 18 soldiers and policemen—have been killed and 161 have been wounded in the series of firefights since Sept.  9.

On Tuesday, a SF-260 Marchetti plane dropped nine 250-pound bombs on Sumatra Island, around 1 pm. Eight of the bombs exploded.

An hour later, MG520 helicopters fired machine guns on the island. A Navy vessel also joined the attack.

President Benigno Aquino has ordered the military to find out who was supplying ammunition to the rebels.

Aquino had spent more than a week monitoring the military offensive to crush the more than 200 rebels.

There were reports that the rebels have stockpiled weapons and ammunition in Zamboanga City long before the 200 MNLF forces led by Malik stormed ashore on Sept. 9.

One free hostage Maricel Teves, who was wounded in captivity, said the rebels also had medicines and they treated her.

She said the rebels knew the area, moving around the villages of Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Kasanyangan and Rio Hondo.

“They said they planned this a long time ago and that their firearms were already in these areas,” Teves said.

She said she had heard Paul Aukasa, an MNLF member from Basilan province, say that the group planned the attack even before the month-long feast of Ramadan (July 10 to Aug. 9).

Former hostage Junior Morte, 60, said the MNLF rebels conserved their ammunition.

“They don’t shoot because they have to. They shoot if the need arises and if they need to defend or protect their position,” Morte said.

“I’ve seen how they deploy snipers, and they wait while the other side (military) is delivering heavy fire on their position,” he said.

Morte said Malik had “maps and contacts in the villages.”

He said Malik had bragged to the hostages that his group had support in the villages of Rio Hondo, Mariki, Talon-Talon and Mampang and that he and his men had enough food and ammunition.

Morte, who escaped from the rebels on Sept. 13, said the MNLF fighters did not carry boxes of ammunition.

“They just go to the houses where they left their supplies,” he said.– Dan Toribio Jr.