Wednesday, August 19, 2009

7 suspected MNLF rebels killed in clash with Marines on Palawan island

Manila Bulletin, Thursday, 20 August 2009

By: Elena Aben

Seven members of a Moro separatist
group that occupied an island
vil1agein Palawan were killed and two
others were captured, while a Marine
soldier was wounded when fighting
erupted between the armed men and
the military yesterday morning.
Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard
Arevalo said a report from the ground
commander of the fleet-marine operations
team, Lt. Col. Yuri Pesigan,
stated that seven bodies of suspected
Moro National Liberation Front
(MNLF) members had been retrieved by the military.
He said that firearms were also
seized from the marauders. These
included two Garand rifles, an M-14
rifle, an M-79 grenade launcher and
two caliber .45 pistols. A kris was also
Initial report from the field stated
that among those kil1ed was Abdullah
Abdurajak, alias "Pa Guro", the leader
of the armed men. The military, however,
said this information has yet to
be verified.
Arevalo said two more suspected
MNLF were captured in the running
gun battle. A wounded Marine, grazed
by bullet near his eye, was airlifted to
a hospital in Rio Tuba in the southern
tip of mainland Palawan.
"Pesigan and Commander Alberto
Cruz of Naval Task Group 41.5, and
members of the local police, with orders
coming from Commodore Orwen
Cortez, the Commander Naval Forces
West, endeavor to get all the MNLF
members before sundown to prevent
their possible escape," Arevalo said.
The Navy spokesman earlier said a report sent by Cortez to Navy Flag
officer-in-command Vice Admiral Ferdinand
Golez,showed Pesigan decided
to attack the armed men Tuesday
afternoon after a military ultimatum
for them to surrender lapsed.
The men were holed up in a mosque
in Sitio Marabon, Mantangule in Balabac
Abdurajak and his followers arrived
in the village island on Saturday
and terrorized residents, who were
forced to evacuate to a nearby island.
Local government officials tried to
persuade the armed men to surrender
through peaceful negotiations.
On Tuesday,a surrender feeler was
sent by Abdurajak to authorities.
However,Arevalo said Abdurajak's
group failed to surrender before sundown
on Tuesday, the ultimatum given
by Pesigan to Haji Sukarno Jamal,
the rebels' emissary. This prompted
the Navy Special Operations Group
and teams from the Marine Battalion
Landing Team 8 to launch the assault
on midnight of August 18.(With a report
from Nonoy E. Lacson)

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