MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Suspected Muslim militants attacked rubber plantation workers Friday on a southern Philippine island province, killing one and wounding 35, the military said.
The victims were among about 120 workers on four trucks heading home for lunch in Sumisip township on Basilan Island when they were ambushed by seven gunmen, said Basilan army commander Col. Carlito Galvez.
Galvez said he has ordered troops to pursue the "lawless elements." Work in the 1,200-hectare (2,964-acre) plantation may have to be suspended during the military operation, he added.
Local army spokesman Col. Lope Dagoy said the attackers were members of Abu Sayyaf. The al-Qaida-linked group is notorious for bombings, kidnappings and beheadings, and is on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
Regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang says 14 of the wounded have been flown to hospitals in nearby Zamboanga City. Six of the victims were flown by a helicopter contracted by the U.S. military, which is providing anti-terrorism training for Filipino soldiers, Cabangbang said.
It was the second attack in two months against the plantation workers, who say they have faced extortion demands from gunmen.
Dagoy says Friday's attackers were the same ones who fired on one of the plantation's trucks in July, killing five workers and a militiaman and wounding 22 others.