ILIGAN CITY - A soldier died and five of his comrades were wounded in an ambush in Lanao del Norte on Monday morning.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said members of the 42nd Company of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion were on their way to Barangay Punod in Pantar town when armed men sprayed bullets on their vehicle at the boundary of Kalalangan and West Pantar villages.
Some of the men who fired shots at the soldiers were hiding on the roadside, while the others were on board a white pick-up truck which was trailing the soldiers' vehicle.
The soldiers' vehicle managed to move several meters after the armed attack, giving them the chance to escape.
The lone fatality was identified as Private First Class (PFC) Joey Matallano.
The five injured are Sergeant Benigno Silvano Jr., Sergeant Rudolph Apriba, Corporal Omar Salazar, PFC Bryan Ronn Begornia, and PFC Ronald Macatay.
The white pick-up truck used by the suspects was abandoned. It only had a commemorative plate bearing the name ''Prosecutor''.
A certain Abdul Jalil Sarip, who turned out to be a village chief in Madalum, Lanao del Sur, was also arrested.
Sarip allegedly drove a Toyota Revo which some of the suspects supposedly boarded.
The military has launched an investigation to determine the motive behind the ambush.
Lt. Col. Anthon G. Abrina, Battalion Commander of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, said the assailants could be from a group who wanted to spoil the peace talks.
''It could be spoilers, it could be threat groups, lawless elements,'' he said. – report from Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News Iligan