Philippines: Infighting possibly triggered Sulu rampage, AFP says

Apr. 11, 2007

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has not ruled out squabbling amongst its troops in Sulu as the cause for the Black Saturday shooting rampage that killed nine soldiers and a civilian.

AFP chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr issued the statement as he announced the recall of the Charlie Company from Silangkan village, Parang town where the incident erupted to the 35th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Bud Datu town.

“Its hard to be conclusive about it. I do not see why they should be fighting each other. That’s a company. If there is one unit that should be very united, where camaraderie is strong, it’s in the company and platoon level,” said Esperon.

He said infighting may have indeed pushed the government troops to turn against each other. Earlier reports said an unidentified man opened fire a rifle at people in the Silangkan military patrol base.

“Its probable, its probable but we do not want to be definite about it because I simply would like to see the investigation report,” Esperon said.

He wants to see the investigation findings of the AFP’s Joint Task Force Comet and Western MIndanao Command within two days.

“The investigation on the incident is ongoing. At this time, we could not as yet pinpoint who started the shooting We are trying to determine by more thorough investigation who indeed was on a shooting rampage if we may call that,” he added.

Meanwhile, the AFP chief said paraffin tests would be conducted on the company members “to see who fired, what firearms were fired.” (PIA Dispatch)

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