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Malacanang strongly condemns recent violence in Mindanao that left 12 soldiers dead and scores wounded

MANILA, July 28 — Malacanang on Friday strongly condemned the recent violence that ensued from a day-long clash between government troops and a secessionist group, al-qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), in Mindanao that left 12 army soldiers dead and scores wounded. Government assured that follow up operations are being conducted to run after the bandits.

In a regular press briefing in Malacanang, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that President Benigno S. Aquino III has already directed Defense Secretary Volatire Gazmin to assess the situation in Basilan and attend to the needs of the soldiers in the field.

Valte added that government assistance are on the way especially for the families of the Philippine Army soldiers that perished during the gun battle.

“First, we salute our fallen for their bravery… it is a reality for those of us in government that when things like this happen mabigat po sa atin iyan. Of course, we comdemn the attack. Secondly, assistance is already on the way to the families of the fallen," she said.

According to Valte, the President has directed the Secretary of National Defense to go to Basilan and "to make sure that things on the ground, that assistance is being given."

“We have been assured by the Secretary of National Defense that pursuit operations will continue against the attackers,” she added.

When asked on the possible effects of the encounter to the morale of the government troops, Valte said that they are not expecting the incident to affect the confidence of the soldiers in any way.

“Yes, naiintindihan natin na realidad po iyan sa buhay ng isang sundalo…tinatanggap natin na mabigat po pag ganito ang nangyayari but yet we laud them kasi kahit nagkakaroon po ng mga ganitong insidente, patuloy pa rin po ang ating kasundaluhan sa pagbabantay nila sa seguridad ng ating bansa,” Valte noted.

Recent reports revealed that clashes between the Philippine Army soldiers and the Abu Sayyaf Group started early Thursday when the government troops attacked an ASG encampment in Sumisip, Basilan. The encounter was considered as one of the bloodiest in recent weeks in the country’s southern island.

The military said that four bandits were killed during the volley of fire. Officials added that the militants belonged to the same group that ambushed rubber plantation workers in the same area two weeks ago. (PNA)

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