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US condoles with kin of slain Marines in search of Bossi

July 11, 2007 5:20pm

The US government extended its condolences to the families of the Philippine Marine soldiers killed in a gun battle with members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), while doing search and rescue operations for kidnapped Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi.

"It's a tragic incident. The embassy condoles (with) the famil(ies) of killed and wounded soldiers although it's still not clear to us what really happened," Matthew Lussenhop, United States press attaché in Manila, said by phone Wednesday.

He said the MILF, the country's largest Muslim rebel organization engaged in peace talks with government, has never been part of the foreign terrorist organization.

Abu Majid, MILF information officer based in Basilan, said in statement that the Philippine Marines entered the MILF area in complete disregard of the ceasefire agreement between the MILF and the government.

"We have all the mechanism of the ceasefire that allows no errors for coordination and to prevent this kind of unfortunate incident. The does not understand why no such coordination was ever attempted by the Philippine Marines," Majid said.

Majid said 23 Marines were killed including 10 who were "beheaded" by unknown groups after the fighting.

The rebels recovered six M-60 machine guns; eight M-203 grenade launchers, ten M-16 Armalite rifles, one 60mm mortar, and several night vision goggles. - GMANews.TV