2 village officials hurt as MILF rebels raid banana plantation in North Cotabato

May 4, 2009 1:38 am 

COTABATO CITY, May 3 -– Some 200 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels raided Sunday a banana plantation in Tulunan, North Cotabato, strafing and burning 50 houses and construction equipment, police said Sunday.

The rebels reportedly attacked the AMS banana plantation in Barangay Maybula at about 7 a.m. and strafed the militia outposts and houses nearby, according to Police Senior Insp. Sofronio Cornelio, Tulunan police chief.

Police said Barangay Maybula village chair Richard Dado and village councilman Ric Villa were wounded when they rushed to the plantation to check on the explosions.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Ponce, 6th Infantry Division spokesperson, said Chairman Dado, president of the association of village chairmen in Tulunan, said the attackers were in fatigue uniform with MILF patches and insignias.

Cornelio said the attacking rebels fired rocket- propelled grenades and automatic rifles at militia outposts nearby.

Cornelio said the rebels torched about 50 houses made of light materials and two heavy equipment being used for road concreting.

Tulunan is about 70 kilometers from here and is home to about 50,000 residents, a combination of Muslims and Christians.

A bulldozer and a back-hoe parked near the main entrance of the plantation were set on fire as the rebels fled to avoid responding elements of Tulunan PNP and the Army’s 57th Infantry Battalion.

Police said a plantation security guard was missing as of 12 noon and believed to have been brought by the retreating rebels to use as human shield.

Police and military manhunt was still on going against the guerillas who fled toward the Liguasan marshland in Maguindanao.

The MILF could not be reached for comment.

Elements of the 57th IB, backed by armored personnel carriers and helicopter gunships, were still pursuing the rebels who fled toward Maguindanao. (PNA) DCT/NYP/EOF/jmd

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