Mistaken as a group of Abu Sayyaf bandits, a military helicopter fired at a group of students, injuring two civilians, said to be having a picnic on the island of Kalang Sibubung in Albarka, Basilan around 3 p.m. on January 5, according to an Inquirer.net report.
Col. Carlito Galvez of the Army’s 104th Infantry Brigade said the injuries “were not serious.” He also said that the gunship was at the area, suspected to be a den of the Abu Sayyaf, as part of its ongoing military offensive against the criminal group responsible for kidnappings and bombings in Mindanao and has ties with international terrorist group al-Qaeda.
But the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center (Minhrac) said there were at least four students injured. Injured were a 12-year-old boy and 18-year-old Julia Haron.The two others who were injured are also children, according to Minhrac worker Ershad Tawasil. They were brought to St. Peter Hospital in Lamitan City. The boy was already discharged but Haron remained in the hospital.
Minhrac also said the group on picnic was composed of 70 students of a madrasah (Arabic school) in Albarka. The children were said to have been traumatized by the air strike that took about 30 minutes. The attack only stopped when Minhrac volunteers based in Lamitan City phoned the military that civilians were present in the area, report said.