(Updated) 6 killed, 22 wounded in Basilan ambush

Richard Falcatan
Armed men attack a rubber plantation in Sumisip, Basilan, killing 6 farm workers and wounding 22 others

SURVIVOR. One of the civilians who survived a July 11 ambush in Basilan. Photo by Richard Falcatan

(2nd Update) MANILA, Philippines – Six farm workers in a convoy were killed and 22 others were wounded in an ambush Wednesday, July 11, in Sumisip, Basilan, reports from Joint Task Force Basilan said.

The four-vehicle convoy, which also carried armed security escorts from a government militia, was on its way to a remote rubber plantation when it was attacked, Army spokesman Maj Harold Cabunoc said.

“The (militia) members who escorted the civilian workers managed to return fire, forcing the lawless elements to retreat in different directions with their own casualties,” Cabunoc said in a statement.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack on Basilan island, although local police and the farm cooperative’s manager said they suspected the Abu Sayyaf group.

Taha Katu, the cooperative’s manager, said prior to the attack they had received extortion letters purportedly from the Abu Sayyaf demanding payment of over $1,000 a month, in exchange for not being harmed.

CASUALTY. One of the 6 farm workers killed in the ambush. Photo by Richard Falcatan

The task force said the casualties worked at the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Development Cooperative (TARBIDC) in Barangay Sapah Bulag, Sumisip town.

This is the second ambush this year at civilian militias guarding the Tumahubong plantation.
 
In April, suspected Abu Sayyaf members killed 3 militias conducting security patrol at TARBIDC an early morning ambush. In October 2011, a similar incident occurred which resulted in the death of 6.
 
The cooperative was formed in the late 1990s by plantation workers as well as former members of the Moro National Liberation Front. – with reports Agence France-Presse