Families of soldiers killed in Basilan clash seek justice

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - News - (With a report from E. Dumaboc)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The families of army soldiers slain in fierce fighting with Abu Sayyaf rebels in Basilan province are crying out for justice.

They wanted to know what went wrong in the operations that left dozens of soldiers dead and wounded in Tipo-Tipo town recently.

President Aquino flew to Zamboanga City just last week and visited wounded soldiers in the hospital.

Aquino has awarded medals to the soldiers at their hospital bed and then briefly visited the wake of one of 18 slain infantry man in Ayala village. He later met with some of families of the soldiers at the Edwin Andrews Airbase.

Security was tight during Aquino’s visit here and journalists were not allowed to interview the president.

More than 50 soldiers were wounded in the fighting that also killed a Moroccan bomb expert Mohammad Khattab and Purudji Indama, a notorious Abu Sayyaf commander, and Ubaida Isnilon, son of rebel leader Isnilon Hapilon.

Aquino was accompanied by General Mayoralgo dela Cruz, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, but it was not immediately known whether he would be removed following deadly clashes that left a huge number of casualties.

Just this month, Dela Cruz sacked Brigadier General Alan Arojado, commander of an antiterror group, and his deputy Brigadier General Jose Cabanban, for failing to stop the kidnapping activities of the Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines.

President Aquino in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. (Photo by Michael Rey Baniquet)

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