Cult attacks soldiers in Sulu, 17 declared dead

Posted at 09/25/2011 12:57 PM | Updated as of 09/25/2011 8:44 PM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Members of an Abu Sayyaf-linked cult attacked a military outpost in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning, leaving 17 dead.

The pre-dawn attack on the Marine outpost left 13 members of the cult Auliah group dead and 2 from the soldiers’ side. Two civilians were also caught in the crossfire.

Six more soldiers were also injured, authorities said.

They also said the cult meant to target the soldiers who were guarding the Tabungkol Primary School in the Talipao district.

In an interview with ANC, Western Mindanao Command spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang said the attack was supposed to be the first mission for new recruits of the Auliah group.

Intelligence reports show the group has links to the Abu Sayyaf and a rogue group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) under Ustadz Khabier Malik. “The incident happened 2.5 kilometers away from Malik’s safe haven,” Cabangbang said.

Out of fear, residents have reportedly fled the area.

Cabangbang said they have nothing to fear since “it was an isolated incident.”

“As we speak, our Marines are already conducting pursuit operations,” he added. Areas outside Talipao are also on alert.