'Malik's group behind Sulu attack'
- Roel Pareño () - October 3, 2009 - 12:00am

ZAMBOANGA CITY , Philippines  — The military has tagged the group of renegade Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander Habier Malik behind the attack on a Marine detachment in Panamao, Sulu that left four people killed and nine others wounded last Thursday.

Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ben Dolorfino declared Malik’s forces had merged with the Abu Sayyaf extremists in attacking the 311st Marine Company detachment in Barangay Bitan-ag.

Dolorfino also blamed Malik for leading an ambush on a convoy of troops going to the camp.

Dolorfino, who was once taken hostage by Malik and his group, clarified the MNLF had nothing to do with the attack.

Malik was the MNLF commander who took hostage Dolorfino and Ramon Santos, the head of the government’s truce panel, at the MNLF camp near Panamao last February 2007.

Dolorfino and Santos had flown in to talk on the issues over the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF when they were taken hostage by Malik and his followers.

According to Dolorfino, he had already disassociated Malik and his supporters to avoid dragging the mainstream MNLF.

“We are avoiding the usage of MNLF in tagging the group of Malik in deference to the majority of the MNLF who are observing the (1996) peace agreement,” Dolorfino said.

One of the soldiers who were wounded during the attack, Sgt. Charlie Pernia told Dolorfino that the rebels came from nowhere when they staged the ambush.

“When I saw the rebels I was able to shout and alert my fellow soldiers. But It was a little late because the rebels were already firing at us,” Sergeant Pernia said.

Pernia said the rebels unleashed recoilless rocket fire that crippled their convoy.

He said the initial rocket fire hit 1Lt. Carlo Magno Zureta and Pfc. Aldren Saludo in a military truck but they survived.

Saludo was cited for bravery for killing one of the attackers with a machete.

“I figured in fist combat and grappled the jungle bolo of the enemy and neutralized him,” Saludo said.

Pernia added an armored tank managed to repulse the rebels, instantly killing three of the attackers and wounding several others.

Dolorfino added the rebels sustained heavy casualties after troops recovered several high-powered firearms at the scene of the fighting.

Among the weapons recovered were a shoulder-fired 90RR recoilless rocket launcher, a bazooka, an M16 rifle, an AK-47 assault rifle and an MI Garand rifle.

Dolorfino said Malik and his men swooped down on the Marine detachment that was a former rebel enclave captured by the military two years ago.

He said the fierce gun battle ended after an hour when the rebels started to retreat.

ABU SAYYAF ALDREN SALUDO BARANGAY BITAN BUT IT CARLO MAGNO ZURETA AND PFC CHARLIE PERNIA DOLORFINO DOLORFINO AND RAMON SANTOS DOLORFINO AND SANTOS MALIK MNLF
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