Friday, December 04, 2009

Guns, explosives, ammo unearthed near Ampatuan mansion

12/04/2009 | 01:39 AM

Government troops have unearthed a big weapons cache of light artillery and heavy infantry weapons, including commando weapons, explosives, ammunition, and military uniforms from a vacant lot near the mansion of the Maguindanao-based Ampatuan clan in Shariff Aguak, the provincial capitol.

Col. Leo Ferrer, new commander of the Army’s 601st Brigade who replaced Col. Medardo Geslani, said it was likely that the items unearthed in Poblacion Tres, Sharif Aguak belonged to the perpetrators of the grisly mass murder on November 23.

"We believe that these were used during the massacre," Ferrer said, adding that the discovery of the weapons cache could point to the perpetrators of the crime.

The inventory was still going on as of posting time, but the Army provided an initial list of seized weaponry as of 7 p.m. Thursday, which included the following:

Two 90-mm recoilless rifles (RR),
One 57-mm RR,
Three 60-mm mortars,
Four M60 machine gun,
Two 81-mm mortars,
One cal. .50 Barrett machine gun,
One Ultimax light machine gun,
One Bushmaster 5.56-mm automatic gun,
Two Browning Automatic rifles (BAR),
One Belgian-made light automatic rifle (FAL),
One AK 47 automatic rifle,
One HK 11 light machine gun,
One 5.56-mm M4 carbine,
Four 9-mm pistols,
Seven ammo for cal. .45 pistol,
140 boxes of 5.56-mm ammo,
One extra barrel, cal. .50,
14 magazines, cal .45 ammo
Six bolt carriers for M16

Ferrer said the items were unearthed about 4 p.m. by the joint military and police personnel after they received a tip from residents that some weapons have been buried in the area.

Philippine National Police chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, for his part, said law enforcers even needed a bulldozer to recover the weapons.

In a separate report, Chino Gaston of GMA News said some of the firearms were stamped with markings that read, “Department of Defense (DND) Arsenal" and “Arms Corporation of the Philippines."

Gaston also quoted military officials stationed in the area as saying that the recovered weapons were enough to arm two Army brigades, with each brigade composed of an estimated 1,200 soldiers.

Gaston said the arsenal would be preserved as evidence in an undisclosed area.

Witnesses have pointed to the six members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, including its patriarch Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Jr., as the ones who masterminded the grisly murder of 57 people, including 31 journalists.

So far only Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. has been apprehended and indicted with 25 counts of murder. He is currently under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.

The Ampatuans have denied involvement in the crime.
- Aie Balagtas See/JV, GMANews.TV

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