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6 soldiers hurt in Basilan blast — Army

Six members of the elite Army Scout Rangers were hurt following an explosion in Basilan on Monday, the spokesperson for the Philippine Army said. The explosive device was believed planted by suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits.

Major Harold Cabunoc, acting Army spokesman, said the patrolling troops were in the vicinity of Baiwas village in Sumisip town when the explosion occurred 8 a.m. The troops were from the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion.

"Our troops were bombed, they were ambushed… They were conducting security patrol as part of the our law enforcement operations against criminal elements in Basilan when the incident occurred," Cabunoc said.

He pointed to Abu Sayyaf leader Furuji Indama and Hassan Asnawi as those behind the explosion.

Those injured were Cpl. Jonathan Candias, Pfc. John Mark Cac, Pfc Domingo Lungao, Pfc. Jesus Dacutanan, Pfc Garry Soriano and Pfc. Wenefredo Cornelio.

Cabunoc said the wounded troops were airlifted to a local hospital for treatment.

On Oct. 18, a total of 19 soldiers, including four junior officers, were killed in a clash in Al Barka town between government troops and armed men believed to have been reinforced by suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels. Nine rebels died in the encounter.

The MILF has since claimed that it was the military that violated the truce by launching an attack within their area of temporary stay (ATS).

The ATS is a place designated by the government and the MILF Coordinating Committees on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) where forces of the secessionist group can stay to prevent encounters with troops pursuing members of the bandit Abu Sayyaf group.

But the military has insisted that the MILF violated the ceasefire by participating in the clash between the soldiers and the armed group. The government and the MILF has an existing ceasefire agreement. — RSJ, GMA News
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