11 killed in militant attack in Philippines (Lead)

February 27th, 2010 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Zamboanga City (The Philippines), Feb 27 (DPA) At least 11 people including 10 civilians were killed and several injured Saturday when Muslim militants attacked a village in southern Philippines, a provincial police chief said.
About 70 Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels swooped down at dawn on the village of Tubigan in Maluso town in Basilan province, 900 km south of Manila, Senior Superintendent Antonio Mendoza said.

“Among the fatalities were a government militiaman and four children,” he said. “Some of the injured were in serious condition.”

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner said the guerrillas burned down six houses and targeted the house of the village chieftain.

Basilan Catholic Bishop Martin Jomoad said villagers had fled their homes for fear the guerrillas would return and attack them again.

“We are alarmed and disturbed over this incident,” he said. “The attackers did not even spare the children.”

The attack occurred several hours after government security forces rescued in nearby Sumisip town two Chinese men kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf rebels more than three months ago.

Government forces were conducting pursuit operations against the kidnappers of the Chinese men rescued unharmed late Friday in Binembengan village.

The rescued victims - Zi Shun Lu, 51, and Bo Shung Tan, 27 - were operating a plywood factory in Maluso when the guerrillas abducted them Nov 10.

Brawner said that according to preliminary investigations, one of the attackers was a former resident who left the village three years ago because of a dispute with the village chief.

“But it’s too early to say what the motive was,” he said. “All we know at this point is the guerrillas attacked the village.”

The death toll was corrected down from 13 after Mendoza said two people who were earlier counted as dead were actually among the 10 injured and were being treated at nearby hospitals.

The Abu Sayyaf group has been blamed for several deadly terrorist attacks in the country. They were also involved in high-profile kidnappings targeting foreigners and wealthy Filipino businessmen.

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