By Aaron Recuenco
About 100 Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) bandits killed nine civilians and wounded 16 others when they attacked a community in Maluso town of Basilan Monday 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 fired at the houses and burned some of them,” said Sindac.
“Our troops quickly responded to the area to face the armed men and to secure the civilians. The wounded civilians were immediately secured and evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment,” he added.
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 people were confirmed dead, and they were identified as Ryan Joplo, Baby Arakani and Andok Kato.
The wounded civilians, according to Cuyco, included Lokaya Arakani, Joey dela Cruz, Julhari Agrani, Mariam dela Cruz, Jessie dela Cruz, Tarhata Arakani, Solo Arakani, Abel Laping, Roderick Villarin and Grace Fernandez.
“The gunmen withdrew to 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. They were all beheaded.