Police patrol ambushed in MILF area ahead of new Mamasapano ‘ massacre’ investigation
PAGADIAN CITY – Unidentified gunmen ambushed a police patrol and wounded at least 4 people in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga del Norte, officials said.
Officials said the ambushed in Santo Nino village in Sibuco town sparked a firefight and that two civilians were among the injured. Police and military forces were sent to the town to pursue the attackers who escaped to the neighboring village of Lakiki.
The wounded police officers have been identified as SPO2 Berhay Ali and PO1 Atani Fahad.
No individuals of group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the town is a known stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which signed an interim peace deal with the Aquino government in 2014.
MILF forces had killed over a dozen miners working for the TVI Resources Development, Inc. in previous ambush in Zamboanga del Norte after they ignored warnings to stop operation in Mount Canatuan in neighboring Siocon town, a sacred altar to an indigenous tribe called the Subanon whose ancestors settled in the area centuries ago.
And MILF gunmen also ambushed a police patrol in Sibuco’s Lakiki village in 2008 that left four officers wounded.
Security officials did not say if the latest attack was perpetrated by the MILF, but the ambush came ahead of another senate investigation into the brutal killings of 44 police commandos last year in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province by the MILF and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters ( BIFF).
The commandos were in a secret mission deep inside MILF territory to arrest a Malaysian bomber, Marwan, who was eventually killed by the raiders. But MILF gunmen and BIFF – alerted by the clandestine mission approved by President Benigno Aquino – caught up with the commandos and engaged them in a daylong battle until all the members of the Special Action Force were brutally killed and stripped of their weapons and uniform.