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Abu Sayyaf, not MILF, behind Basilan ambush: AFP official

Posted at | Updated as of 10/19/11 11:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The attack against government soldiers in Basilan on Tuesday was an act by an Abu Sayyaf group led by commander Long Malat and not the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a regional command spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said.

In an interview on ANC's Dateline Philippines, AFP Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said, “[the attack] was engaged by Long Malat, who is not a member of the MILF, he is just a simple bandit leader.”

The firefight, which started in the morning, thereafter “gave the opportunity for other armed groups to join, not because they have something against our soldiers, but they want to help their relatives [from the bandit group]…”

He said the area was 4 kilometers away from an MILF territory. As such, the MILF can’t blame the government for supposedly violating a ceasefire agreement, he added.

The military suffered 13 soldiers killed, 12 injured, and 10 still missing.

Of the 12 injured, 2 have been brought to a city hospital to undergo delicate surgeries. The 2 sustained gunshots to the face, Cabangbang said.