12 civilians, militiaman slain in Basilan attack

DateLine Philippines

At least 12 civilians, including four children, and a militiaman were killed when alleged fighters of a so-called “lost command” of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), joined by members of the Abu Sayyaf group, attacked a village in Maluso town, Basilan province early Saturday morning, authorities said.

Nine other civilians were wounded and five houses burned in the attack on Barangay Tubigan Proper at around 5:45 a.m., Philippine National Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Leonardo Espina, said.

The attack happened less than 10 hours after police rescued Chinese nationals Michael Tan and Oscar Lu, who were kidnapped in November, in Sumisip town.

Earlier, Lieutenant Steffani Cacho, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, said a local militia led by members of the Laping family, whose father is barangay chairman of Tubigan Proper, engaged the attackers.

Cacho said the 40 gunmen attacked in three groups led by Dic Ilaw, Omar Alaw and Dadi Moro.

Espina identified 11 of the fatalities as Istilito Bacus, Benji Laping, Timhaar Arakani, Rodel Pagdalian, John Laping, Salima Salapudin, Lorna Sahidda Salisa, Tawasil Idjiran, Abigail Bucoy, Arjie Bucoy, 9, and Karen Bucoy, 1 year old.

Abigail and Karen Bucoy were burned, Espina said.

He initially identified 10 wounded: Talib Ibba, Sandy Taroza, Nonoy de la Cruz, Usman Assam, Joel Josefino, Maymuna Josefino, Jonathan Josefino, Joren Josefino, Alexander Bartolome, and Kimberly Bucoy, 13, who was listed as serious.

It has yet to be established who among the injured later died.

Espina said the attackers burned the homes of Salima Salapuddin, Sandy Taroza, Ramon Castillo, Ariel Laping and Sahaya Janang.

Cacho said troops from the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion immediately rushed to help the beleaguered villagers but did not say if the attackers suffered any casualties.

Authorities have warned of possible attacks by the Abu Sayyaf following the killing in Sulu last week of Al Bader Parad, a commander who has been tagged in last year’s kidnapping of three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and of an ABS-CBN news team.

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