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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lawless Zamboanga? Vice mayor, 3 others killed in ambush

Responding to pirate attacks can be deadly in Zamboanga as reported here:
A southern Philippine town vice mayor and three of his bodyguards were killed after gunmen attacked them in Zamboanga del Sur province at 3 p.m. today. Three others were seriously injured in the attack, officials said.

Officials said Dinas Vice Mayor Abdul Bassit Maula was killed along with his bodyguards in the coastal village of Tarakan, where government militias were battling pirates at sea.

Three of Maula's bodyguards were also wounded, said Major General Gabriel Habacon, commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division. "The vice mayor and his three bodyguards are killed in the ambush. Troops were sent to the town to pursue the attackers," General Habacon said.

He said the official rushed to the village after learning that pirates, onboard three speedboats, attacked patrolling militias. "Pirates and bandits are actively operating in the area and we have been pursuing these gunmen the past months," he said.

Military intelligence reports have tagged Camel Lao, a pirate leader, as allegedly behind the attack.

Lao's brother Rumano was killed by security forces in a fierce firefight earlier this year, General Habacon said.

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