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Probe finds Abu Sayyaf, not MILF, behind beheading of 10 Marines in 2007

COTABATO CITY—The government-led investigation into the 2007 beheading of 10 Marine soldiers in Al-Barka, Basilan province, has established that the Abu Sayyaf was responsible, not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The joint investigative team, composed of members of the joint ceasefire panels and the civilian-led Bantay Ceasefire, said that while MILF forces clashed with the Marines on June 10, 2007, the Abu Sayyaf bandits were responsible for beheading and mutilating the soldiers.

According to the team report released to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday, the bandits came in after the MILF rebels had left the encounter site.

The probers based their conclusion on testimonies of more than a dozen witnesses, including civilians, civilian and military officials, and MILF rebels.

The team also said it found that both the military and the MILF committed violations of the ceasefire agreement when they clashed.

It said there were “lapses in coordination” when the Marines conducted operations in Guinanta and other neighboring barangays in search of the kidnapped Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, but the MILF also violated the ceasefire when they opened fire on the Marines.

Revisit ceasefire pact

The team recommended that the ceasefire agreement be revisited and strengthened so that similar incidents would be avoided.

Von Al Haq, MILF spokesperson, said it appeared that the military had not read the report of the investigating team when it insisted on the liability of MILF forces—particularly commander Dan Asnawi—in the 2007 Al-Barka beheadings.

“It’s a credible report. I don’t know why the military is not recognizing it and keep on insisting that our men perpetrated the beheading,” he said.

Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Oban, who visited Zamboanga City Tuesday, declined to comment on the report.

He said another investigation was being conducted on the 2007 incident. “I will have to reserve my side on this because I expect the investigation to be completed within the week,” Oban said.

Al Haq said the 2007 Al-Barka incident was the same argument that the military used when it sent soldiers to capture Asnawi on October 18, resulting in fighting that left 19 soldiers dead.

Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer, Western Mindanao Command chief, has urged the MILF to surrender Asnawi and his men. But the MILF has rejected this, saying an investigation should be conducted first. With reports from Allan Nawal, Julie Alipala, Jeoffrey Maitem and Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao

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http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/83055/probe-finds-abu-sayyaf-not-milf-behind-beheading-of-10-marines-in-2007

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