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4 MILF rebels slain, 8 hurt in Maguindanao–military

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5 troops wounded in N. Cotabato clash

By Joel Guinto, Jeoffrey Maitem
INQUIRER.net, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 09:55:00 08/21/2008

SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao — (UPDATE) Four Moro rebels were killed and eight others wounded as the military continued air strikes against Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in Maguindanao province, a military official supervising the air and ground assaults said Thursday.

Meanwhile, in Midsayap, North Cotabato, five soldiers were wounded in an encounter with MILF fighters at dawn Thursday.

Colonel Marlou Salazar, commander of the 604th Infantry Brigade, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) that soldiers also fired howitzers to drive away hundreds of rebels from the village of Tapikan, Mamasapano and from remote areas of Datu Saudi and Datu Piang towns.

Air strikes were first launched Wednesday on suspected lairs of MILF commander Ameril Umbra Kato, whose 105th Base Command occupied several North Cotabato villages, triggering the recent rash of violence in Central Mindanao.

Salazar said their casualty count was based on radio conversation between Kato’s unit and the 106th Base Command under Wahid Tundok.

“Sporadic fighting continues as of press time. Aside from our ground troops, we are shelling their position. They are strong so we have to use air supports,” Salazar said.

The Midsayap firefight started at around 5:45 a.m. between government troops and MILF fighters led by Zaid Pakiladato alias Jad and Mesay, in Damatulan village, said Major Armand Rico, information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom).

The rebels are also under Kato’s command, Rico said.

The government has put up a P5-million bounty for Kato, and another P5 million for Abdullah Macapaar alias Commander Bravo, another MILF commander who led bloody attacks on five Lanao del Norte towns last Monday.

Five soldiers were hurt in the Midsayap encounter, said Brigadier General Jorge Segovia, acting chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) command center, updating earlier reports that two soldiers had been hurt.

He claimed the rebels suffered “heavy” casualties.

Major Randolph Cabangbang, the Davao-based deputy Eastmincom spokesman, identified four of the wounded as Technical Sergeant Roland Apdulan, Privates First Class Roland Ragonton, Tito Puerto and Nurhasin Abdurahim.

After the first clash, a 30-minute firefight broke out around 8:15 a.m. between troops of the 6th Infantry Battalion and some 20 MILF fighters in Matilak village, Kabuntalan town, Shariff Kabunsuan.

No casualties were reported in the second incident, Rico said.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

ThuUTC2008-08-21T09:17:05+00:00UTC08bUTCThu, 21 Aug 2008 09:17:05 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am08

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