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Troops kill Muslim man who attacked sentinel in Sulu province

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Government soldiers killed a Muslim man who attacked and wounded a sentinel on a military post on Friday in southern Philippines, officials said.

Officials said the man, who was armed with a bolo, attacked the soldier in the village of Buhanginan in Sulu’s Patikul town. Other soldiers guarding the post shot and killed the man.

The motive of the attack was unknown, but villagers have decried human rights violations by the military in Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the restive Muslim autonomous region.

Just last week, troops – on orders from the Western Mindanao Command – stopped a boat owned by Governor Toto Tan’s family in the middle of the sea and inspected its cargo of soft drinks. Tan was also on the boat when soldiers intercepted the vessel.

It was not the first time the military harassed Tan. Just this week, soldiers under the Western Mindanao Command also boarded the same boat while it was anchored at the Port of Zamboanga just this week. Heavily-armed troops inspected its cargo of soft drinks, but did not inspect other boats at the pier.

The incidents were also reported by Doctor Raden Ikbala, of the Sulu Provincial Hospital, and he called on the public to condemn the military harassment. “We can think of only one reason why the military would harass our honorable Governor: it is being paid millions and millions of pesos by those who oppose the governor and his family,” Ikbala said.

“Last Tuesday, the Governor was aboard their family-owned Coca-Cola boat bound from Zamboanga to Jolo when suddenly the military conducted a surprise inspection. That was okay with the Governor, but the other boats docked at Zamboanga wharf were not inspected. The Coke ferry was singled out,” he said.

“Last Sunday, the patrol boat radioed the same boat and instructed the captain to stop at the sea fronting Tanduh (in Sulu) while the Governor was aboard. Governor Toto Tan immediately called General (Alan) Arojado (commander of military forces in Sulu), who reasoned out that they thought the Coca-Cola boat was a Jungkung (wooden boat) carrying illegal cargoes. What? That boat is humongous and Jungkung is microscopic when compared to the Coca-Cola boat,” Ikbala added.

Past military commanders in Sulu had reportedly interfered with local politics to protect their own interests and favored politicians, especially during the time of President Gloria Arroyo. The military also – in many occasions – allegedly facilitated or assisted in the payment of ransoms to Abu Sayyaf for the safe release of mostly foreign and wealthy kidnapped victims.  (Mindanao Examiner)

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