At least 30 cops died in MILF clash

By , on January 26, 2015


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MANILA – At least 30 members of the police died on Sunday in a clash with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Maguindanao province, the first recorded violence since both parties signed the peace agreement last year.

The lead MILF negotiator during peace talks with the government Mohagher Iqbal confirmed the incident, but refused how many fighters were killed.

“This is the first encounter between the MILF and [government forces] this year. Hopefully, this will be the last,” Iqbal said. “The clash was triggered by a no-coordination police operation.”

He also claimed that the police officers attacked the area first.

“They also attacked our position, that’s how our troops were dragged into the encounter,” he said.

Earlier reports were not clear. According to the officials, the members of Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF) intruded into the territory of the MILF’s 105th Base Command, thus the clash started.

According to Capt. Joanne Petinglay, chief of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division public affairs unit, the military was currently doing their clearing operations in Mamasapno, when the policemen were killed in a clash with fighters and outlaws from the BIFF.

She said that they cannot determine the number of policemen killed yet.

“As of now I cannot give an exact number of fatalities, it was a police operation, there was no coordination with our
troops on the ground,” said Petinglay.

MILF chief for military affairs Von Al Haq said that at least 30 policemen were killed at around 3 a.m. last Sunday. But another officer claimed that at least 36 killed, disarmed, and mutilated.

“We are still verifying the casualty figure, what we are doing is we assist the police in extracting the fatalities,” Petinglay said.

Petinglay recounted that the SAF unit came to Mamasapano for a “law enforcement operation against a most wanted man, a high-value target, a Jemaah Islamiyah member.”

The SAF team was there to serve a warrant of arrest to Zulkifli bin Hir and Basit Usman. But things turned difficult and ended up with exchange of bullets.

“We were shocked when the SAF attacked the 105th Base Command of the MILF because there is an ongoing peace talks with the government,” said Abu Misri Mama from BIFF

He added, “The firefight has already died down but the SAF and the military are already surrounded by the MILF and the BIFF.”

However, Petinglay said that the claims of Mama were false saying that the military was not involved in the firefights.

“Possibly the group that the BIFF clashed with is the SAF,” she said.