ZAMBOANGA CITY: Two government militias were killed and five others were wounded in a clash with gunmen in Basilan province, officials said.
Officials said the fighting erupted late Friday in Sumisip town where gunmen earlier threatened workers of a government water project in the village of Sukatin. The fatalities were identified as Duminta Gulinda and Bejo Sampang, while the wounded were Almirin Pantao, Omar Jadjales and Oloy Malanji – all militias.
Two of the attackers—Samir Balaman and Apet Muril—were also injured in the clashes, but were taken away by their group, according to Capt. Jefferson Mamauag, a spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division.
Mamauag said troops belonging to the 64th Infantry Battalion headed by Lt. Randolf Manding clashed with about 15 gunmen under Kotatong Balaman. “There could be more casualties on the enemy side as bloodstains were spotted in their routes of withdrawal,” he told The Manila Times.
Lt. Col. Leandro Dacumos, the battalion commander, said villagers reported the presence of gunmen in the area and sought help from the authorities. “The encounter was in response to a report by concerned citizens regarding the presence of armed lawless elements sighted at the water system project of the local government. The lawless elements occupied the area and threatened the workers of the project,” he said.