NINE people were killed, while 16 others were wounded after Abu Sayyaf bandits attacked a village in Basilan province on Monday, August 21.

Colonel Juvymax Uy, Joint Task Force Basilan commander, said the attack occurred around 5:30 a.m. Monday in the village of Tubigan, Maluso.

Jordan Garcia, 24, said a group of gunmen, brandishing high-powered firearms and clad in fatigue uniforms, arrived on foot before the attack.

The gunmen, estimated to be more than 100, gathered in a covered court in Tubigan and opened fire on a cluster of houses.

Garcia said most of the residents were still asleep when the gunmen arrived. They were awakened by the burst of gunfire and ran for safety.

The gunmen also set on fire some of the houses and the village's health center.

Barangay Tubigan is set to celebrate its fiesta on Tuesday, August 22.

Garcia said he and his driver were loading sawn lumber into a truck for transport when the gunmen attacked the village. He sustained a bullet wound in the leg, while the driver, whose identity was not immediately available, died from a head shot.

Garcia was among the 11 persons, including two children, who were transferred to a medical facility in Zamboanga City after they received initial treatment in a hospital in Isabela City, Basilan.

One of those killed was a militiaman, who was among the handful of government militia and Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team members who put up a fight against the bandits.

Uy said the bandits withdrew toward the hinterlands upon sensing the arrival of troops and were being pursued by troops.

The incident Monday was the second attack staged by the Abu Sayyaf bandits in Barangay Tubigan, said the military.

Eleven people were killed in the first attack, which took place on February 27, 2010. The bandits also burned some houses.

Uy said the bandits may have staged the attack to retaliate against communities they think were not supportive of them following a series of battle setbacks.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the United States and the Philippines as a terrorist organization for ransom kidnappings, beheadings, bombings and other violence. (With AP/SunStar Philippines)