'Abu Sayyaf' bandits kill 6 in Basilan-A A +A
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
MANILA (Updated) -- Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits ambushed a truckload of rubber plantation laborers in the restive southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing six and wounding 22, officials said.
The army commander on Basilan Island, the bandits’ stronghold, blamed the al-Qaida-linked group for the violence, which came despite efforts by US-trained Philippine forces to put an end to decades of bombings and ransom kidnappings by the extremists in the predominantly Christian nation.
Colonel Arthur Ang said the ambush targeted workers from a rubber plantation that refused to pay the bandits’ extortion demands.
The workers were traveling on a truck when the gunmen opened fire, killing five workers and one government militiaman. Twenty-two others were wounded.
The government-armed militia, which provides security for the plantation, repulsed the attackers, Ang said.
The ambush came a day after eight soldiers were wounded when their convoy ran over a homemade bomb in the same area near Sumisip town, said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang.
He said troops were sent to guard voters who were registering for next year's elections in an autonomous Muslim region that includes Basilan.
Abu Sayyaf bandits have targeted the Basilan rubber plantation previously over ransom demands.
Three militiamen were killed in an ambush in April, and in 2010, the bandits abducted and later killed three workers after they failed to collect a ransom.
A decade ago, US troops deployed in the southern Philippines to train Filipino soldiers to battle the Abu Sayyaf amid several high-profile kidnapping sprees and terrorist attacks.
Philippine offensives have weakened the Abu Sayyaf members but they remain a threat and are still holding at least five foreign hostages, apparently in an attempt to raise funds for food and weapons in their jungle hideouts. (AP)