21 civilians killed in Sulu ambush
MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – As Muslims all over the world observe Eid al-Fitr, at least 21 civilians including a 7-year-old girl were killed in Talipao, Sulu, on Monday, July 28, in an ambush by suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group. At least 11 were wounded.
"It happened 8:30 am. Sixteen were immediately killed in the ambush but 2 of the wounded also died," said Brigadier General Martin Pinto, commander of the Sulu-based 2nd Marine Brigade. Pinto said among the dead were children.
A police situation report later updated the death toll to 21.
At least 40 civilians and 10 members of the Barangay Police Action Team (BPAT) were in 3 or 4 Tamaraw vans when they were ambushed by more or less 50 rebels, added Captain Rowena Muyuela, spokesperson of the military's Western Mindanao Command
BPAT members work with government security forces. "This is the retaliatory action of the Abu Sayyaf against the BPATs who are supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police," said Pinto.
The rebels were led by Indang Susukan and Sibih Pisih, according to the military.
The police identied the first 19 fatalities as the following:
- Padzma Hasan, 32
- Misyaar Hassan, 14
- Maida Hasan, 35
- Jirmalyn Hasa, 15
- Dadah Palahuddin, 85
- Mura Ahadan, 60
- Jainab Ajid, 50
- Milina Ahadan, 15
- Miriam Binhur, 19
- Nurfaisa Gappar, 14
- Dayang Ahadan, 19
- Tata Isahac, 40
- Risalyn Isahac, 7
- Saik Ajid, 45
- Said Palahuddin, 35
- Abdul Julhari, 83
- Baris Julhair, 19
- Abdukahal Ahadan, 19
- Abdulrahim Isahac Omar
Pinto said the military is currently conducting a blockade to prevent the armed men from withdrawing to more remote areas.
Sulu has been witness to recent bloody incidents involving the Abu Sayyaf and government troops. Only last May, at least 11 were killed, including 7 Marines, in an encounter between the Abu Sayyaf and the Marines.
Previous to this, 14 members of the Abu Sayyaf were killed in an encounter with the military.
ARMM governor Mujiv Hataman condemned the attack. "We strongly condemn this senseless act, especially that it happened on the day Muslims culminate the end of the month-long fast and celebrate the Eid al-Fitr," Hataman said.
"We have directed our security forces to investigate the incident and make sure that those behind the incident will face justice," Hataman added. – with reports from Karlos Manlupig/Rappler.com