27 bodies recovered in war-torn Zambo-A A +A
By Bong Garcia
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
ZAMBOANGA CITY -- Clearing operations in areas formerly occupied by the Moro National Liberation Front in Zamboanga City has resulted in the recovery of 27 cadavers and 165 pieces of unexploded munitions, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said on Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, AFP public affairs office chief, said most of the recovered munitions are hand and rifle grenades. He added that all of the dead are MNLF fighters.
He said that some of the bodies were recovered from shallow graves indicating that these individuals were killed during the fighting and were buried by their companions to avoid contaminating their positions.
Zagala stressed that clearing operations are being concentrated on government installations (hospitals, clinics, barangay halls and schools) in the combat zones so that they can resume operations as soon as possible.
As of Tuesday and Wednesday noon, the combined AFP and Philippine National Police units conducting the clearing operations are still to sustain any casualties from MNLF stragglers believed to be hiding in the rubble of Barangays Sta. Barbara and Sta. Catalina.
Zamboanga Peninsula police information officer Ariel Huesca said the 27 cadavers of slain MNLF rebels were recovered in separate locations in the adjoining villages of Sta. Catalina and Sta. Barbara.
Huesca said the cadavers were recovered since Sunday, the first day the government forces shifted to the clearing operations.
He said a total of 130 structures were subjected to clearing operations.
Also on Monday, a soldier and an MNLF straggler were killed in a fresh firefight while 26 cadavers of slain rebels were recovered as clearing operations entered the second day Monday.
The clearing operations started Sunday, a day after National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin declared the standoff as over.
Lieutenant Colonel Jose Randolph Sino Cruz, head of the military's Task Force Zamboanga Peninsula-Lanao (Zampelan), said the fresh firefight broke out around 2:30 p.m. Monday in Barangay Sta. Barbara.
Sino Cruz said the clash broke out when the troops chanced upon an MNLF straggler while conducting clearing operation.
The troops recovered from the slain MNLF rebel an M4 and M14 rifles, he added.
Meanwhile, the Zamboanga City Medical Center, the largest government hospital in the region and was one of the targets of infiltration by the MNLF rebels, was finally turned over to management and operations are expected to resume immediately.(Bong Garcia with reports from PNA/Sunnex)