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MILF: Marines disregarded ceasefire treaty

July 11, 2007 4:13pm

Tags: Basilan
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Wednesday scored the Philippine Marines for treading upon its encampment in Basilan without warning, a move which allegedly violated the government's pact with the rebels.

In a statement posted on its website, the MILF said that the Marines entered the MILF area in Tipo-Tipo town "in complete disregard of the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the government."

Abu Majid, MILF information officer, said that, "We have all the mechanism of the ceasefire that allows no errors for coordination and to prevent this kind of unfortunate incident."

The MILF maintained that 23 people were killed in the encounter that saw the Philippine Marines take a heavy beating at the hands of some 300 to 500 armed men.

Lieutenant Col. Ariel Caculitan, spokesman of the Philippine Marines, gave a lower casualty count for the government side, placing the Marines' death toll at 14.

Both Caculitan and Majid said 10 government troops were beheaded, but the MILF said the act was carried out by "unknown groups after the fighting."

"The MILF has ordered an investigation, because Islam prohibits mutilation or commission of any atrocity against a fallen enemy," the statement read.

In MalacaƱang, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said the joint ceasefire mechanism is operating, which will "address the incident accordingly." He said an international monitoring team will help attend to the matter.

As this developed, Majid "completely dismissed allegations from the Armed Forces" that the armed group that figured in last Tuesday's clash were members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

Marine Major Gen. Ben Mohammad Dolorfino, government chief of the Ad Hoc Joint Advisory Group (Ahjag), said in an earlier interview that beheading was an execution style of the Abu Sayyaf.

He claimed to have received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and his wards were infuriated with the outcome of the battle.

"There were reports that the son of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon were among the fatalities. He reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to his mouth," Dolorfino said in Filipino during an interview on dzMM radio. - GMANews.TV
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Tags: Basilan