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Schoolchildren injured in airstrike on Islamic militants

Children were on a picnic nearby, says Philippine rights group

Schoolchildren injured in airstrike on Islamic militants

An MG-520 attack helicopter (picture: Facebook) reporter, Basilan

January 7, 2014

Attack helicopters conducting an airstrike against Islamic rebels injured two schoolchildren on a picnic in Basilan province on Monday.

Some 70 students, teachers and parents were left “traumatized” after the military operation using MG-520 attack helicopters. Arkam Omar, 12, and Julia Hanon, 18, sustained “various injuries”, the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Witnesses estimated that the airstrike lasted for about 30 minutes and the rockets fell about 30 meters from the victims,” it added.

Army spokesman Jefferson Somera said there were no civilians in the area when military intelligence personnel conducted an earlier reconnaissance operation to target Abu Sayyaf militants.

“The civilians went near the location of the Abu Sayyaf during the airstrike,” he said.

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