For role in carnage, 3 MILF men suspended
- Jaime Laude () - March 1, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership announced yesterday the three-month suspension of three of its Basilan-based ground commanders due to their active role in the Oct. 18, 2011 ambush of 19 government soldiers in the town of Al-Barka.

It was not clear what the suspension entailed.

Aside from the three-month suspension, the three commanders were also required to undergo ceasefire education training to keep them abreast of important issues surrounding the ongoing peace talks, the MILF said.

“We suspended them for three months and then they were told to undertake education, especially on the ceasefire agreement,” MILF chief negotiator Mohaqher Iqbal told Camp Aguinaldo reporters in a telephone interview.

Earlier, the government and the MILF peace panels agreed to drop and close the Al-Barka carnage, based on the findings forwarded to them by the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team (IMT).

However, the closure was only on the level of the peace negotiating panel and does not cover criminal charges filed by the police against the MILF rebels involved in the soldiers’ slaying.

The peace panels tapped the IMT to conduct verification on the incident in the wake of heated exchanges between the military and the rebels, accusing each other of ceasefire violations that resulted in the fighting.

In its report last month, the IMT said both parties committed violations of the prevailing ceasefire agreement.

Iqbal, however, declined to discuss the IMT report, saying that as much as they wanted to make it public, their government counterparts don’t want it declassified.

Iqbal identified Dan Laksaw Asnawi as one of the three commanders suspended and said that he had forgotten the names of the two others.

Asnawi, kidnap-for-ransom suspect Long Malat and Abu Sayyaf Basilan commander Furugi Indama were the subject of law enforcement operations by the Special Forces and Scout Rangers in October last year in Barangay Cambog, Al-Barka town.

A supposedly hit-and-run operation turned into a full-blown firefight when the soldiers virtually entered the MILF’s so-called “killing zone” that subsequently claimed the lives of 19 government forces.

For this blunder, four senior military officers behind the operations were sacked from their respective posts and were ordered to face court-martial proceedings.

AL-BARKA BARANGAY CAMBOG CAMP AGUINALDO DAN LAKSAW ASNAWI FURUGI INDAMA INTERNATIONAL MONITORING TEAM IQBAL LONG MALAT AND ABU SAYYAF BASILAN MOHAQHER IQBAL MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT SPECIAL FORCES AND SCOUT RANGERS
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