Philippines: Lone Gunman Behind Sulu Army Camp Carnage, Says Esperon

Apr. 12, 2007

A lone gunman was responsible for the shooting rampage at an Army patrol base in Sulu province that killed nine soldiers and a civilian, the Chief of Staff, General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said.

Quoting initial findings of a military investigation, Esperon also said “no drinking spree and no mauling” preceded the carnage, contrary to some news reports.

Esperon said the incident happened in a house within compound of the 35th Infantry Battalion patrol base in Silangkan village, Parang town at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

“There is also an indication that the firing started from one man,” Esperon told reporters, although he acknowledged investigators have still to determine who.

He said the civilian killed during the incident, the patrol base’s errand boy, was wearing a camouflage uniform top.

“We will leave it at that at the moment. We don’t want to speculate and impute to the dead soldiers some acts that they might not have committed like drinking and mauling [somebody] until we get the final report in three days,” he said.

He said two persons who were wounded in the incident have given their statements to investigators from the Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command and the counter-terrorism group Joint Task Force Comet.

Esperon said investigators were encountering “difficulties” since the incident happened in “total darkness” during a power outage in the area.

“All the dead were in one house so the witnesses we have are in other bunkers or houses in the compound. So, the difficulty begins there,” he said. (PIA Dispatch)

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