At least 12 killed in militant rampage in S Philippines

13:40, February 27, 2010      

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Guerrillas of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group at Saturday dawn attacked a village headed by a former government militia commander in southern Philippines, leaving at least twelve people dead and dozens wounded, local officials said.

Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Stephanie Cacho told reporters that Abu Sayyaf militants attacked the residence of Leleng Laping, a former civilian active auxiliaries member and now village chairman, and nearby houses in Tubigan village, Maluso town, Basilan province at 5:45 a.m. Saturday (2145 GMT Friday).

Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said four of the casualties were children and at least six civilians were injured, according to military sources.

Brawner said militants looted the village and burned houses. The military suspected that group feud is the cause of the rampage.

But a provincial health official told Xinhua that at least 27 people were injured. Many of them suffer burns and are in critical conditions.

Cacho said more troops were sent to Maluso to combat the rebels while wounded villagers were rushed to hospital.

Basilan is a militant hotbed in southern Philippines and a stronghold of the 400-member Abu Sayyaf group.

The attack came a day after militants freed two Chinese hostages they held hostage in Maluso for more than three months. But authorities have yet to confirm that Abu Sayyaf group is behind the abduction.

Source: Xinhua
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