Gunmen attack troops working on US-funded road project in Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/12 February) – A civilian laborer was injured when unidentified gunmen fired on a group of Filipino soldiers working with civilians in implementing a United States-funded road concreting project in Basilan province.

Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade, disclosed that the incident took place around 6:45 a.m. Saturday in Barangay Amaloy, Ungkaya Pukan municipality.

Visaya said the injured civilian was taken to the hospital for treatment, but no soldiers were hit during the incident.

He said the implementation of the road concreting project will continue despite Saturday’s attack.

Visaya said the motive of Saturday’s attack was be extortion.

The police, in coordination with the military, is conducting investigation to unmask the suspects, he added.

The road concreting is one of the several projects funded by the American government through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Last February 3, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Leslie Bassett led the inauguration and turnover of two school buildings to education officials in Basilan province.

The school buildings constructed in Barangay Port Holland, Maluso town and Malamawi Island in Isabela City, the province’ capital, were realized through the joint efforts of USAID’s Education Quality and Access for Learning and Livelihood Skills-2 (EquALLS2) and Petron Foundation.

Meanwhile, Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar has called on the populace to assist the authorities in unmasking the suspects’ identities by way of providing vital information.

Akbar said “what the suspects had done” should not be condoned, citing “it’s clear they don’t want development to take place in their area.”

Ungkaya Pukan is a five-year-old municipality comprising of 12 barangays that were formerly part of Tipo-Tipo municipality.

It was created by Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 193, ratified by plebiscite on May 22, 2006. (MindaNews)