Casualties high in Philippine Marines attack on MILF in Basilan
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 23:14
August 13, 2009 – Casualties were reportedly high on the Philippine Marines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during a day-long clash between the their forces in Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan yesterday.
Around 3am yesterday, troops of the Philippine Marines stormed an attack on suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) at Sitio Kurellem, Baranagy Ungkaya Pukan, Basilan.
However, at around 6am after attacking and engaging the ASG, the Marines diverted its offensives against MILF forces under the 114th Base Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) – MILF at adjacent Sitio Kapayagan, Barangay Baguindan, Tipo-Tipo, Basilan.
The attack on the MILF forces by the Marines was launched without provocations, a field report said.
Firefight escalated to Sitio Bato Mapoteh and Sitio Maluha in Baguindan with the Marines heavily pounding the areas indiscriminately with artillery fires.
Three innocent non-combatant women were killed by the artillery shelling by the Philippine Marines.
Gun battle continued until evening. Accordingly, the combat operations against the ASG and MILF were test missions for the newly trained Marine troops.
MILF suffered nine martyrs and four wounded. At one hand, the casualties on Marines were approximated at 50 men.
The casualties on the MILF were those who pursued the withdrawing Marines at Sitio Mapoteh but were unable to get out of the area as Marines reinforcement troops arrived and scoured the area.
Scores of assorted firearms that were captured by the pursuing MILF fighters from the fallen marines were recovered by the Marines reinforcement troops who cordoned the pursuing MILF fighters.
Barangay Baguindan, the area for the test mission of the Marines, is the bailiwick of MILF provincial committee chairman and some brigade commanders of the 114th Base Command BIAF - MILF.
MILF leaders in the province believed that real target of the operations of the Marines were not the ASG but the MILF forces.
The test mission attack on the MILF violated the exiting MILF – government ceasefire accord and diminished the letter and spirit of President Gloria Macapgal Arroyo’s declaration of suspension of military offensives in the conflict affected areas and MILF forces in a bid to resume the stalled peace negotiations with the MILF.
A protest on this sneaky attack against MILF forces by the Philippine Marines is up to be filed by the MILF against the government as violation of the ceasefire and act jeopardizing mutual efforts to sustain the government SOMO and MILF suspension of military actions.