April 8, 2007 / 8:21 AM / 11 years ago

Rampaging gunman kills 10 in southern Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) - Nine soldiers and one civilian were killed after an unidentified gunman went on a rampage inside a patrol base in the southern Philippines, a military spokesman said on Sunday.

Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres said the army was investigating whether the civilian was behind the attack at around 2:30 a.m. (1830 GMT) on Saturday inside the camp, in Parang town on the island of Jolo.

A soldier and the wife of one of the victims were also wounded in the shoot-out.

“The slain unidentified civilian might have an involvement. As of the moment, we are investigating it. We are looking into possibilities. Why was there an unidentified civilian in the camp?” said Torres.

“There was a firefight, an exchange of gunfire. When the battalion commander reinforced the area after it was reported to him, they were also fired upon,” Torres said, adding that the camp was without electricity during the attack.

Since August, nearly 10,000 soldiers have been battling the Philippines’ deadliest Muslim rebel group, the Abu Sayyaf, in fierce clashes on Jolo, a kidney-shaped island around 600 miles

south of Manila.

The ground offensive has been the most successful yet against Abu Sayyaf. Around 70 militants, including the group’s top two leaders, have been killed out of a 400-strong outfit.

Dozens of troops have also been killed and more than 100 wounded in the fighting, which has also displaced thousands of villagers.

Abu Sayyaf is the most militant of four Islamic rebel groups in the Philippines, a largely Catholic country, where Muslims in the south have been seeking independence for decades in a conflict that has killed more than 120,000 people.

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