Army, MILF claim killing 20 enemies in Mamasapano clash

He said elements of the 601st Infantry Brigade were conducting clearing operations when it encountered 80 MILF rebels under Commander Umbra Kato. 

The intense firefight that followed, Ponce said, resulted in the killing of 20 MILF rebels and wounding of several others. He admitted that eight from the government side were killed but he refused to identify the soldiers at this time.

But Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the MILF’s peace panel, said in a text message to MindaNews that only one of the MILF fighters was “martyred” and another was injured. The Armed Forces, on the other hand, suffered over 20 dead and an undetermined number wounded, he added.

Iqbal said the MILF also captured six firearms, including an M60 machine gun.

The intense fighting took place at a time when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo toured the region. On the same day as the clash, the President met with local officials, led by Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, at the provincial capitol of Maguindanao in Shariff Aguak town to talk about Malacañang’s solid waste management program.

Ponce assured that the Mamasapano encounter had nothing to do with the President’s visit in the province. Kato’s band, he said, have been known to be roaming the area for food and to extort money. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)

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