Philippines says Muslim rebels kill 19 soldiers

The Philippine military accused Muslim rebels Wednesday of killing 19 soldiers on a remote southern island in one of the worst outbreaks of violence between the two sides in years.

The fighting further complicated efforts to end one of Asia's longest insurgencies, with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the military trading accusations of breaking a ceasefire in place to promote peace talks.

The military said troops were on the hunt for members of the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group in the jungles of Basilan island when MILF rebels ambushed them, triggering a nine-hour clash.

Nineteen soldiers died, 13 were wounded and three remained missing, regional military commander Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer told reporters.

"We shall not only file ceasefire violations against them, but also murder chargers against their members who are responsible for killing and wounding our soldiers," Ferrer said.

The military initially reported that 13 soldiers had been killed in the fighting, and that six troops were taken hostage.

But the bodies of the six soldiers were found on Wednesday, prompting allegations from the military that they had been killed while in captivity.

"They were definitely murdered... they were were still alive last night," army spokesman Antonio Parlade said in Manila.

The 12,000-strong MILF has waged a rebellion since the 1970s for an independent Islamic state or autonomous-rule in the southern third of the mainly Catholic Philippines.

The rebellion has left about 150,000 people dead, with most of the deaths occurring in the 1970s when an all-out war raged.

Although the two sides signed a truce in 2003 that paved the way for peace talks, the ceasefire is frequently marred by clashes across the vast southern Mindanao region that Muslims claim as their ancestral homeland.

The talks also broke down in August when the MILF rejected the government's roadmap for peace, heightening tensions in Mindanao.

Tuesday's fighting was the most deadly between the MILF and the military since 2008, when two rogue rebels launched a series of attacks mostly on Christian towns elsewhere in Mindanao that left about 400 people dead.

It was also the worst on Basilan island since 2007, when 14 Marines were beheaded after a gunbattle with MILF rebels.

Regional military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang said the MILF commander accused of the 2007 atrocity, Dan Laksaw Ansawi, also led Tuesday's MILF assault.

The military often accuses the MILF of providing shelter to the Abu Sayyaf, a small band of militants believed to number fewer than 400 but which is blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks.

However the MILF denied it was responsible for Tuesday's fighting.

MILF spokesman Von al Haq said the violence erupted after the soldiers strayed into rebel territory.

He also said five rebels had died in the clashes, while the military claimed nine guerrillas were killed.

Basilan, a remote and small island with a mostly Muslim community, has long been a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf because it can rely on the support of locals.

About 600 people living near the town where Tuesday's fighting fled their homes in fear of further violence, civil defence chief Benito Ramos said in Manila.

However both the Philippine military and the MILF said they would seek to follow ceasefire procedures, and there were no further clashes on Wednesday.

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to the peace process, expressing hope that negotiations could resume next month.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific
    First China air force drills in 'far offshore' Pacific

    China's air force has carried out its first ever military drill over the western Pacific Ocean, state media said, highlighting Beijing's growing military reach. Several aircraft from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday flew over the ocean via the Bashi Channel, which runs between Taiwan and the Philippines, the official Xinhua news agency said. "This is the first time that the PLA Air Force conducted such drills in an airspace far offshore from Chinese coastlines," Xinhua cited …

  • Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow
    Shorter hours for rail lines tomorrow

    The Metro Rail Transit (MRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Philippine National Railways (PNR) will have shorter hours tomorrow for the replacement of defective railroad tracks during the Holy Week. …

  • Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers
    Noy increases allowances for cops, soldiers

    President Aquino has signed a joint congressional resolution raising the daily subsistence allowance for both members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP). Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Aquino signed last March 27 the merged Joint Resolution 2 of the Senate and Joint Resolution 26 of the House of Representatives. Speaking to reporters, Lacierda yesterday said the daily allowances of police officers and soldiers were raised from P90 …

  • Oil firms raise gas prices today
    Oil firms raise gas prices today

    This year’s Holy Week break will be accompanied by an increase in local pump prices after oil companies announced yesterday a P1.10 per liter hike for gasoline and P0.60 per liter for diesel effective today. “Phoenix Petroleum Philippines will increase the prices of gasoline by P1.10 per liter and diesel by P0.60 per liter effective 6 a.m. of March 31, 2015 to reflect the movements in the prices of refined petroleum products in the international market,” said Phoenix Petroleum, an independent …

  • DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah
    DFA denies dropping Phl claim to Sabah

    The Philippines has never offered to drop its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for Manila’s arbitration case against China over the West Philippine Sea issue, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday. “In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in explaining the DFA’s …

  • Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury
    Pagcor remits record high P5 B to national treasury

    The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has remitted P5 billion in cash dividends to the National Treasury, fully settling all its arrears incurred in the last several years. Pagcor chairman and chief executive officer Cristino Naguiat Jr. said with this year’s remittance, the state-owned gaming firm has fully settled all remaining arrears in cash dividends that were incurred by the previous administration since 2005. Pagcor’s cash dividends to the National Treasury under its …

  • Maysak moves closer to Phl
    Maysak moves closer to Phl

    The typhoon with international name Maysak slightly accelerated as it moved closer to the Philippines yesterday, threatening to dump rains over eastern Luzon this weekend, the state weather bureau said. Rene Paciente, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Maysak was spotted at 2,175 kilometers east of Mindanao as of 1 p.m. yesterday. Paciente said based on their latest forecast, Maysak is likely to affect …

  • Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany
    Phl gets P2-B climate projects from Germany

    The Philippines is getting 41 million euros or around P2 billion from the International Climate Initiative (ICI) of Germany that will fund 10 bilateral projects to address the impact of climate change. Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairman Lucille Sering yesterday met with Norbert Gorissen – head of the International Climate Finance of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety – to discuss the projects, some of which will be …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options