Military launches air strikes vs MILF

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 24 2011 04:29 PM | Updated as of Oct 25 2011 04:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The military launched air strikes on Monday against Moro separatist rebels blamed for a series of attacks that have left 35 people dead in the restless south since last week.

Two OV-10 attack planes bombed a remote village on the edge of Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay where Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels have been entrenched since last week, army spokesman Major Harold Cabunoc said.

"The bombing attacks began at 11.30 a.m. today," Cabunoc said. "About 100 heavily armed bandits are holed up in their bunkers and running trenches."

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but the military said about 3,000 civilians had already fled the area last week.

Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, spokesman of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, said the lawless elements targeted by the Air Force bomber planes in Payao town were led by Waning Abdulsalam, who previous military reports identified as the head of the MILF’s Special Operations Group in the province.

Abdulsalam had been linked to the kidnapping of a Filipino-American Gaerfa Lunsman, her 14-year-old son and a Filipino relative in Zamboanga City last July 12.  The victims were later turned over to Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Basilan where Lunsman was released last Oct. 2.  With Agence France-Presse