12 soldiers killed, 11 wounded, 10 missing in Basilan clash

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/18 October) – Twelve soldiers were killed, 11 wounded while 10 are “missing-in-action” following a clash Tuesday between government and lawless elements,. Western Mindanao Command (Wesmincom) spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said.

Some of whom are Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the island province of Basilan, south of this city, a military official disclosed.

Cabangbang said the firefight broke out around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday in Sitio Bakisong, Cambug village, Al-Barka town.

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He said troops from the Army’s 13th and 19th Special Forces Company were on patrol when they clashed with at least 50 lawless elements in Sitio Bakisong, Cambug village.

Cabangbang did not reveal the identities of the slain and  wounded as well as the missing soldiers.

The wounded were airlifted to a military hospital here in Zamboanga City.

“We suffered casualties and currently our count is 12 KIA (killed-in-action), 11 WIA (wounded-in-action) and 10 MIA (missing-in-action),” Cabangbang said in a text message sent late Tuesday.

Cabangbang identified the leader of the lawless elements who clashed with the troops as Dan Laksaw Asnawi, one of the 30 inmates who escaped from the Basilan provincial jail on December 30, 2009.

Asnawi was also reportedly involved in the beheading of 14 Marines in early 2007 in Barangay Ginanta, Al-Barka, Cabangbang said.

He said they are coordinating with the Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Ad-Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) of the government in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)  “because allegedly some MILF members were involved in the killing and wounding of our soldiers.”

The MILF posted on its website Tuesday that government forces attacked the forces of Commander Ustaz Asnawi in  Sitio Bakisung, Cambug village.

Asnawi, according to the MILF, is a commander of the 114th Based Command of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-MILF based in Basilan province. (Mindanews)