6 die, 30 hurt in ambush, blast

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012


LAMITAN CITY (Updated) – Six people were killed on Wednesday while 30 others, including eight soldiers providing security to the holding of voters’ registration, were wounded in an ambush and bomb explosion in the island province of Basilan.

Lieutenant Colonel Randolph Cabangbang, Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman, said suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits ambushed a truckload of rubber plantation laborers on Wednesday, killing six and wounding 22 others.

The victims are workers of rubber plantation Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (TARBIDC) that refused to pay the bandits’ extortion demands.

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Cabangbang said the rubber plantation workers, escorted by militiamen, were aboard the truck traveling to their worksite when ambushed by around 10 Abu Sayyaf bandits around 6 a.m. in the village of Sapa Bulak, Sumisip.

Cabangbang said the bandits fled to unknown direction when the government-armed militia, which provides security for the plantation, returned fire.

The ambush on Wednesday was the second attack on TARBIDC this year. The first was last April 5 when Abu Sayyaf bandits killed three militiamen providing security for the rubber tappers. Seven rubber plantation workers were injured in that attack.

In 2010, the bandits abducted and later killed three workers of the rubber plantation after they failed to collect a ransom.

The Wednesday ambush also came a day after eight soldiers of the 12th Scout Ranger Company were wounded when their convoy ran over a homemade bomb fashioned as landmine in the same area near Sumisip town, said Cabangbang.

Cabangbang said the soldiers were providing security to the holding of voters’ registration in this province, which is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Basilan police director Senior Superintendent Alexander Linesis said some 2,400 policemen and soldiers were deployed to guard voters who were registering for next year's elections in this province.

A decade ago, American 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. (Bong Garcia/AP/Sunnex)

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