One dead, 36 hurt in Abu Sayyaf ambush

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 08 2012 12:46 AM | Updated as of Sep 08 2012 08:46 AM

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines - Islamic militants ambushed trucks ferrying workers from a farm in the southern Philippines on Friday, killing one person and wounding 36 others, the military said.

The army blamed the Abu Sayyaf, linked with the Al-Qaeda network, for the attack as a convoy of trucks drove plantation workers home from a rubber farm on the island of Basilan, military officials said.

"The rubber tappers, 120 of them... were going home from their work when they were ambushed," said local army commander Colonel Carlito Galvez.

He said six of those injured were in critical condition and had to be flown to Zamboanga city for treatment.

"There are 120 families affected because most of their members won't be able to work for the meantime while pursuit operations are ongoing," he added.

It was the third such attack on the workers of the farm by the Abu Sayyaf.

The Abu Sayyaf, founded with seed money from Al-Qaeda network leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, has attacked the plantation twice previously in an effort to extort money, the military said.

The previous attacks on the plantation prompted the military to mount an operation against the Abu Sayyaf in July which left at least 14 people -- soldiers and militants -- dead.

The Abu Sayyaf is blamed for the worst terror attacks in Philippine history including bombings and kidnappings of foreigners and Christians.

About 600 US troops have been rotating through the southern Philippines for a decade to help train local troops in hunting the Abu Sayyaf. However the Americans are barred from taking part in combat.