Abu Sayyaf members ambushed a rubber cooperative truck in Sumisip, Basilan, early Wednesday, leaving six people, mostly rubber tappers, dead and 22 others injured, authorities said.

Colonel Arthur Ang, commander of the military’s Task Force Basilan, said five of the slain were workers of the Tumahubong Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Integrated Development Cooperative (TARBIDC) and the sixth was a militiaman.

Twenty of the injured are also rubber tappers while the other two were members of the Special Civilian Active Auxiliary (SCAA), he said.

Five of the fatalities have been identified as SCAA member Larry Mangaran Sr., and rubber tappers Dante Binondo, Bonifacio Estequia, Albert Parang, and Loreto Jeneney Jr.

Injured were militiamen Leo Pacure and Adjad Lidjaman and TARBIDC workers including Felessimo Padlio, Roseller Timtim, Armado Polonio, Juanito Puguy, Rey Sundung, Elmer Limbin, Rogelio Mata Jr., Marlon Pungutan, Dante Jeminez, Allan Pascua, Junie Aligay, Jolly Lipapa, Renevier Rabacca, Robert Payusan, Juniver Motocan, Bonifacio Dagodog, Dennis Donaire, and Roniel Limbim.

The incident occurred around 6 a.m., while the rubber tappers and militiamen were traversing the Circumferential Road in Brgy. Sapah Bulak, on a TARBIDC truck.

“The truck was ferrying rubber tappers to a plantation when it was strafed,” Basilan provincial police director Senior Supt. Alex Lineses said.

Members of the SCAA, who were then escorting the rubber tappers, engaged the 10 fully-armed bandits in a brief firefight before the enemy withdrew, Capt. Alberto Caber, spokesman of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, said.

The attackers are believed to have been led by Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Radzmil Janatol, whose group the militiamen encountered near the TARBIDC compound in Sitio Campo Dos, Brgy. Tumahubong, just on Tuesday, Caber said. (John Roson)

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