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Imams refuse to reveal where terror suspects were buried


ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—Police investigators on Saturday came away empty-handed after religious and local leaders in Parang, Sulu, refused to show them the graves of local and foreign terror suspects believed to have been killed in a recent government bomb attack.
“They were not able to convince the imams (Muslim religious leaders) to show them the grave sites. The imams strongly objected to the idea of digging up the cadavers because it’s against their religious beliefs,” said Senior Supt. Antonio Freyra, Sulu police chief.
Elders of the village of Lanao Dacula, also in Parang town, told police investigators they would be desecrating the dead if they excavated the bodies.
Still, Freyra said, they already knew where the bodies were buried—near the site where Philippine Air Force planes dropped bombs on Thursday.
Freyra said one of the imams said there was only one grave which contained five bodies.
Avoiding tension
“The imams said the companions of the slain bandits hastily buried the bodies before fleeing,” he said.
“We were hoping to get specimen samples, but we also didn’t want to insist because it might ignite tensions,” Freyra said.
He said police on Friday recovered from the bombing site some specimens “like samples of blood stains, some small traces of human flesh, patches and some shrapnel.”
Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, told the Inquirer they would leave it to the police to investigate the bombing, including conducting DNA tests on the bodies.
Coballes also denied reports the bomb run was conducted on Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) territory.
Near MNLF camp
“There are no MILF rebels in the area, but it’s near the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) camp,” he said.
The MILF is talking peace with the government. The MNLF, on the other hand, signed a peace agreement with the government in 1996.
Meanwhile, Sulu Bantay ceasefire coordinator Octavio Dinampo denied earlier reports of civilians having been killed in the air strike.
“The huts had long been abandoned,” Dinampo said.
But Dinampo said a relative of Abu Sayyaf leader Gumbahali Jumdail, alias Doc Abu, had confirmed the death of the terror leader.
“He died together with one Bangladeshi known as Mastal in a hut that was converted into a makeshift clinic,” Dinampo said.
He also confirmed the deaths of Jemaah Islamiyah suspect Julkipli Adhir, alias Marwan, and Mobato Mufaiza, alias Muawiyyah.
Casualty breakdown
“As per verification from more than a couple of sources, including relatives of Jumdail, there were 28 persons within the perimeter of the hut—seven were killed, eight were wounded and the rest managed to flee unscathed,” Dinampo said.
He identified the four others who were killed only as Juliun, Muin, Asis and Robert.
He said those who survived the bombing buried the dead.
Contrary to military reports, Dinampo said the bombs were dropped on the village of Lanao Dacula, not Duyan Kabaw.
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6:03 am | Sunday, February 5th, 2012

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