Sayyaf landmines in Basilan endanger resident’s lives

Posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 and is filed under Defense, Lead Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines/10 April 2012—Improvised land mines made by members of the Abu Sayyaf Group and spread in yet unidentified places put Sumisip residents’ lives in peril.

This morning, troops from the 13th Scout Ranger Company of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion conducted combat patrol in the ridges of Abong Abong Peak in Baiwas, a village in Sumisip town, Basilan. At around 8:40, 22 soldiers were wounded and one dead as victim-activated landmines blew off.

Western Mindanao Command Chief Maj. Gen. Noel Coballes in a statement to media admitted that, “The immediate vicinity of Abong-Abong peak had been an  ASG stronghold, before it was overrun by troops of the 4th Scout Ranger Battalion.”

It was just in March when the Philippine armed forces overrun said ASG camp.  “The ASG designed the area to be impenetrable,” Coballes said, adding, “While our current priority is to our wounded soldiers, efforts to clear the area of ASG along with their landmines and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) will continue in order to ensure that civilians who would want access to Abong Abong for farming are assured of their safety.”

Hours later, WesMinCom spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said that the landmine blast had a total of 27 casualties, one among whom was pronounced dead on arrival at the Ciudad Medical de Zamboanga, and five declared to be in critical condition.  Seven as of this report filing have already been moved to Camp Navarro General Hospital while 14 others, who are slightly wounded, are still set to be transferred to the military hospital from Basilan.

The use of landmines has been prohibited by Philippine laws, as the country has been a party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and eventually a State Party on 1 August 2000. It is also a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines.  While the use of these booby-traps or antipersonnel mines is specifically prohibited, about five non-state armed groups to include the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, have formally pledged not to use such victim-activated explosive devices.

As early as 2002, the Abu Sayyaf Group has been reported to have been using improvised landmines in its warfare, to boost its defense against intruders into their territory.

“The camp had a lot of improvised explosive devices planted around it…to strengthen (the Sayyaf’s) defensive position. They are very difficult to detect,” said Col. Ricardo Visaya, commander of the Philippine Army’s 104th Brigade based in the island-province. He added that the Special Operations Task Force Col. Ramon Yogyog now leads a pursuit operations against the rebels.

Organized in the early 1990s by Abdurajak Janjalani as an Islamic fundamentalist group, the ASG has evolved into a terror group engaged in banditry, kidnap-for-ransom, sexual abuse of women and child victims, beheading of male victims, with some sub-groups into severe use of prohibited drugs.  (Frencie Carreon, The PhilSouth Angle)

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