AFP vows justice for victims of 'friendly fire'

Posted at 07/11/14 12:08 PM

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday said justice will be served for the soldiers killed by ''friendly fire'' in Patikul, Sulu last month.

The military's Board of Inquiry (BOI) earlier said that six members of the Joint Special Operations Group (JSOG) were killed after a 105-mm howitzer round launched by their comrades accidentally landed right in their forward command post in the outskirts of Patikul.

''This is unfortunate and the [AFP] chief of staff is deeply saddened by it. We will conduct further investigation to dig deeper into the incident, " AFP spokesperson Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala told ANC.

The AFP general headquarters board of inquiry will look deeper into the case and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

The friendly fire incident occurred as government troops were fighting Abu Sayyaf bandits in the area. It was earlier reported that the bandit group was responsible for the deaths of the six soldiers.

Prior to the howitzer blast, a heavy gunbattle between elements of the Marine Force Recon and the Abu Sayyaf, led by Radulan Sahiron, resulted in the death of 1Lt. Roger Flores and wounding of 11 of his men.

The howitzer was reportedly deployed after the Marines called for fire support from higher headquarters.

Zagala said it is possible that some members of the military will be held responsible.

''It depends now really on the recommendation of the general headquarters board of inquiry that will dig deeper into this incident. I cannot predict what they would find out, but definitely they will go there in the interest of justice and finding out the truth,'' Zagala said.

The AFP spokesperson said while the incident is lamentable, friendly fire incidents also occur even in advanced armies around the world.