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9 civilians dead as ASG raids town

By AARON RECUENCO

Suspected Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) men killed nine civilians and wounded at least 16 others when they attacked a community in Maluso town of Basilan yesterday morning.

Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, director of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) regional police, said the gunmen burned several houses and a health center when they raided Barangay Tubigon at around 6 a.m. yesterday.

Sindac said the attack was carried out by more or less 100 ASG men believed to be led by Basilan-based commander Furuji Indama.

“They immediately fired at the houses and burned some of them. Our troops immediately responded to the area to face the armed men and to secure the civilians,” said Sindac. “The wounded civilians were immediately secured and evacuated for medical treatment.”

Based on the report on the ground, six civilians were the first reported fatalities during the attack, including a 13-year old boy identified as Mark Tan Jalad.

The boy was killed along with five others identified as Ronaldo Erpacio, 52; Carmina dela Curz, 23; Ajid Aminulla, 32; Aradzma Arakan, 28; and Dadang Hassan.

Chief Insp. Tara Leah Cuyco, ARMM regional police information officer, said three more were confirmed dead, identified as Ryan Joplo, Baby Arakani and Andok Kato.

“The gunmen withdrew in the mountainous area near Barangay Tubigon after clashes with our troops,” said Cuyco.

Cuyco said additional policemen, backed by soldiers, were deployed in various parts of the Maluos town to run after the gunmen.

Earlier, it was recalled that several loggers were ordered to be kidnapped by the ASG in Sulu after they were accused of destroying a rubber plantation owned by a family of an ASG leader.

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