MANILA – The Philippine Army said Tuesday it was "enraged" and would demand for a "full-blown" investigation into the killing of 4 soldiers in the hands of policemen in Jolo, Sulu.
The soldiers were pursuing the trail of Abu Sayyaf bombmakers in the rebel stronghold on Monday afternoon when policemen fired at them some meters away from the Jolo Municipal Police Station, according to Army chief Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay.
"Based on eyewitness accounts, no altercation transpired between the two parties nor was there any provocation on the part of Army personnel to warrant such carnage," he said in a statement.
"The Army grieves and condoles with the families of our fallen men. There will be no let up in our quest for truth and justice."
There were no drug agents involved as it was not an anti-drug operation, Gapay added.
Police earlier said the soldiers who were not wearing their uniform and were on board a sports utility vehicle sped past a checkpoint at a residential area in Jolo town.
They allegedly pointed their guns at policemen, which prompted the clash.
The soldiers identified themselves but policemen "fired upon them for still unknown reasons," the Army said.
Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the military's Western Mindanao Command, said earlier Tuesday that he had asked the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the gunfight.
In June 2018, an incident between the Army and police in Samar led to the death of 9 police officers.