Army officer hurt in clash with MILF rebels in Maguindanao


By Edwin Fernandez
Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 11:16:00 08/20/2008

COTABATO CITY– An Army junior officer was wounded when some 30 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels stormed the village of Takipan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao Wednesday, an official said.

Major Armand Rico, spokesman for the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command, identified the wounded infantryman as a certain 2nd Lieutenant Bautista of the 64th Infantry Battalion.

Fighting broke out at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday when the guerillas harassed Barangay Takepan 1 and Barangay Takepan 2 in the borders of Mamasapano town and Shariff Aguak.

The rebels fired rocket propelled grenades at military and militiamen detachment in Barangay Takepan 1.

Lieutenant Colonel Julieto Ando, 6th Infantry Division spokesman, said the Army fired several mortar and howitzers to drive away advancing rebels who belonged to the 105th base command of Ombra Kato and 106th base command of Commander Wahid Tondoc, two MILF field commanders who have disobeyed orders from the MILF central committee.

Military convoy backed by armored personnel carriers are now pursuing the guerillas who quickly fled to Maguindanao marshland.

Eid Kabalu, civil military affairs chief, confirmed the Mamasapano fighting.

But Kabalu insisted that the Army’s 64th Infantry Battalion initiated the offensives against MILF guerillas in Barangay Takepan.

“When you are attacked, normally you will fight back, that was what happened in Mamasapano,” Kabalu said.

The MILF downplayed the P5 million per head reward offered by the government for the neutralization of commanders Kato and Bravo.

“We have internal investigation and we will penalize them if found guilty,” Kabalu said.

“The reward system is unilateral on the part of the government,” he said, adding that the MILF will protect their men if warrant of arrest is served without passing through the ceasefire committee.

“We will defend our field commanders if force is used against them by the government, we have mechanism about it and it would be good for all if the mechanism is followed,” Kabalu said.

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