Gov’t ‘humanitarian’ convoy ambushed in Basilan: 4 dead, 4 wounded

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/07 May) – Suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits ambushed Monday a “government humanitarian convoy,” killing two soldiers, including an officer, and wounding four others in Basilan province, military officials said.

Two of the gunmen were killed when a brief gunfight ensued as the soldiers managed to return fire.

Col. Carlito Galvez, commander of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade, disclosed the troops were in a convoy of vehicles when they were ambushed at around 2 p.m. Monday in Sitio Pagtawanan, Barangay Magcawa in Al-Barka town.

Slain was Major Alin Kannung, the executive officer of the Army’s 32nd Infantry Battalion, and TSgt. Ferdinand Costan, according to Galvez.

One of the four wounded soldiers was identified only as Cpl. Sabri, Galvez said.

Col. Rodrigo Gregorio, Western Mindanao Command spokesman, identified the slain suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits as Mardan Sapilin and a certain Mingkong.

The remains of the two were turned over to the barangays officials, Gregorio said.

He claimed that three other Abu Sayyafs were wounded.

Galvez said the troops were on the way to deliver goats and other livestock in Barangay Bohe Piyang, Al-Barka town when the gunmen ambushed them.

The distribution of the livestock is part of the government’s livelihood assistance to residents in conflict-affected areas, which is implemented through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Galvez said.

He said the Abu Sayyaf bandits who staged the ambush were led by Basir Kasaran, alias Commander Basir and Musana Jamiri.

Gregorio said that personal grudge could be the motive and that Kannung, a native of Al-Barka town, was the main target of the ambush.

Gregorio said Kannung was a former Moro National Liberation Front commander who was integrated into the Armed Forces of the Philippines after the government and the MNLF signed a final peace accord in 1996.

Gregorio disclosed that Kannung has been very active in the campaign against the Abu Sayyafs in Basilan since he joined the military. (MindaNews)