Published in The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines - Criminal charges were filed on Monday against 69 Abu Sayyaf bandits, including four of its leaders, for their alleged participation in an ambush that left 25 people dead and several others wounded during an Eid’l Fitr celebration in Sulu.
Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police (PNP), said among those charged were Idang Susukan, Tawing Umair, Sibih Pisih, and Ustadz Igasan, all leaders of the bandit group.
“The charges were filed on Monday before the Sulu prosecutor’s office,” Sindac said.
He said the multiple murder, multiple frustrated murder and multiple attempted murder charges were based on the testimonies of the witnesses and other evidence recovered from the crime scene.
Last July 28, some 40 people – mostly women and children – were attacked by more than 50 armed men in Talipao town in Sulu.
The victims were on their way to Jolo to take part in the celebration of the end of Ramadan. Investigators are pursuing several angles, including rido or clan war, as motive for the attack.
They said the ambush could also be a form of revenge against members of a village peace force who help soldiers track bandits’ movements.
Authorities have since then intensified security measures in the area to prevent a repeat of the incident.