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MILF’s Umbra Kato reportedly wounded in clash, says military

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 21:50:00 08/19/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) A Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commander who allegedly led the occupation of 15 North Cotabato villages early this month, Ameril Umbra Kato, was reportedly wounded in an encounter in Shariff Kabunsuan province on Tuesday, the military said.

Two of Kato’s men were also killed after they were ambushed by unidentified armed men in Kabuntalan town at around 1:20 p.m., said Major Armand Rico, spokesman of the Armed Forces Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

“As per our report, grabe daw ang tama niya [he was seriously wounded]. His men carried him as they escaped,” Rico said in a phone interview.

Troops in the area assumed blocking positions to prevent Kato and his men from escaping.

However, Lieutenant General Cardozo Luna, the AFP Vice Chief of Staff and concurrent Task Force Mindanao commander, could not confirm that Kato was hurt.

But Luna said intelligence information pointed to the presence of Kato’s 105th Base Command in Kabuntalan.

“We cannot say that he was wounded, but according to intelligence reports, he was there,” he said, adding, “These are sketchy reports.”

Luna said troops from the 6th Infantry Battalion, who were on patrol on the Rio Grande de Mindanao riverbanks in Kabuntalan town, reported that they encountered armed men on board two pump boats.

“The men on one of the boats opened fire, sparking a firefight. One of the boats capsized,” Luna said, adding the occupants of the watercrafts escaped or were carried by strong currents.

He could not confirm whether or not Kato and his men were on board the two pump boats, but he acknowledged that Kabuntalan was the “area” of the 105th Base Command.

A spokesman for the MILF did not return calls seeking comment.

Kato and his men seized 15 villages in Lanao del Norte earlier this month, burning houses and displacing thousands of civilians. Military operations dislodged them from the areas. The fighting left two soldiers and an estimated 31 MILF rebels killed.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-08-19T15:39:34+00:00UTC08bUTCTue, 19 Aug 2008 15:39:34 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm08

Posted in Uncategorized

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