At least 50 armed men stormed a village in Talusan, Zamboanga Sibugay, and occupied a school there after clashing with militiamen, police said.

Director Felicisimo Khu, head of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said the “lawless elements” clashed with Civilian Volunteer Organization members (CVO) in Brgy. Samonte around 2:30 p.m.

The “lawless elements,” led by a still unidentified commander, are now occupying the elementary school in the barangay, Khu said in a text message late Saturday.

The CVO members reportedly withdrew towards Brgy. Cawilan after seeing they were outnumbered, according to the police official.

It is still unknown if the armed men are still at the school as of this writing.

The clash occurred just two days after members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) staged ambuscades that killed five soldiers and three policemen in Zamboanga Sibugay mainland’s Alicia and Kabasalan towns.

The MILF owned up to the attacks, saying these were in retaliation for the ongoing military and police operations against its 113rd Base Command fighters in Payao town.

Military and police officials said the “law enforcement operations” were not aimed at the MILF, but against Waning Abdusalam, the alleged leader of a kidnap-for-ransom group. (John Roson)

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