Skip to main content

6 more Filipino soldiers found dead after clash

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops have recovered the bodies of six more soldiers following fierce fighting with the country's largest Muslim rebel group that has sent both sides scrambling to stop the violence from further damaging shaky peace talks.

Tuesday's fighting on southern Basilan island between army special forces and members of the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front killed at least 25 combatants.

One soldier reported missing was rescued late Wednesday and another was found early Thursday in the sea near the scene of the fighting, swimming toward a military detachment, army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade said.

The bodies of the six soldiers were recovered Wednesday. The bodies bore hack wounds, indicating they were captured and then killed, Parlade said.

The battle was one of the deadliest since 2008, when peace talks bogged down and ignited widespread clashes that killed hundreds and displaced 750,000 people.

The rebels have waged a bloody insurgency for self-rule in the southern Mindanao region, the homeland of minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines. The conflict has killed more than 120,000 people in nearly four decades.

Since the clashes in 2008, a Malaysia-led peacekeeping contingent has kept watch to prevent further battles and keep the atmosphere ripe for peace talks.

The military and the guerrillas blamed each other for starting Tuesday's clash and planned to protest before a joint government-rebel cease-fire committee. Government negotiator Marvic Leonen said that the clash was accidental and that peace talks would continue.

The military initially reported 13 soldiers were killed and 13 others wounded. Troops found six more bodies near the battle scene in remote Al-Barka town, bringing the military death toll in the clash to 19, said regional military commander Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer.

President Benigno Aquino III called a meeting with the defense chief and military officials for Friday to discuss the military setback.

Rebel spokesman Von Al Haq said five rebels were slain Tuesday. Police reported six rebels were killed.

Cabangbang said Wednesday that the clashes had stopped and that the military had asked the joint government-rebel cease-fire committee to allow them to search for the missing soldiers in the Moro rebels' Al-Barka stronghold.

Al Haq, however, said rebels from his group have reported they are not holding any captives. Several army soldiers apparently fled during the clash into nearby communities and some were shot as they ran away, he said.

"Our men have been ordered not to advance or attack unless they come under attack," Al Haq said. "Hopefully we can diffuse this with the other side."

Malaysian-led peacekeepers are trying to pacify both sides, Al Haq said.

It was not immediately clear if al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf militants, known for beheading soldiers, got involved in Tuesday's clashes. The militants are active in Basilan, a predominantly Muslim island about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila, and some are relatives of the Moro rebels.

--------------------------

By JIM GOMEZ - Associated Press | AP3 hours ago

Comments

More Philippine Defense News

DND wants frigate with 'surface-to-air' missile power

MANILA, Philippines - Defense spokesperson Peter Paul Galvez announced on Friday that one of the frigates to be acquired by the Philippines will have "surface-to-air" capabilities. That is, the ship will have the capability to fire missiles, guided by radar or heat sensors, at airborne targets.
"Aside from this, our latest frigate will have heavier gun armament and other equipment that will make it very effective in patrolling and securing the country's waters," Galvez said in Filipino.
He declined to state the particular country the Philippines will acquire this ship but stressed that acquisition will be done through a government-to-government transaction.
The Philippines has taken on a new sense of urgency to upgrade its naval capabilities as tensions continue to rise around the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). US President Barack Obama's announced "pivot" for America towards the Pacific has stirred greater naval activity on the p…

No reduction in AFP manpower size

THERE will be no reduction in the number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it implements the streamlining of commands by 2013, a senior officer told the Manila Standard in an exclusive interview.
“Under the Force Structure Review, there will be streamlining of units but this does not mean reduction in terms of the number of soldiers. In fact, the FSR calls for more recruits in the future,” the source, who requested anonymity, said.
At present, the military has a total of 125,000 soldiers, of which almost 85,000 are in the Army and the rest in the Navy-Marines and Air Force.
The FSR calls for an in-depth study of the AFP history in reference to pertinent laws of the land in conjunction with the challenges of internal and external defense.
The study also calls for the establishment of a strategic command that will focus on external defense where the main force would be the Air Force and Navy.
On instructions of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, former military ch…

Duterte visits Pakistan navy ship docked in Manila - CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte toured a Pakistani naval ship Thursday and extended an open invitation to its crew to visit the country any time.

The Navy Ship SAIF, one of the four F-22P or Zulfiguar-class frigates of Pakistan, is on a three-day goodwill visit. It will stay in the country until December 17.

For more about the CNN Philippines article.


According to the Naval Technology website:
The F-22P or Zulfiquar (English: Sword) class frigate is a 2,500t multi-mission, conventionally powered frigate built for the Pakistan Navy. Design and construction of the F-22P started after a $750m deal was signed in 2005 between Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) and China Shipbuilding Trading Co (CSTC). It is equipped with a 76.2mm main gun, an 8 round FM-90 Surface-to-Air Missile, C-802/CSS N-8 Surface-to-Surface Missile in 2 containers each containing 4 missiles, 2 Type-730B 30mm Close-in Weapon System, and 2 Triple ET-52C Torp…