Soldiers apologize for cops' deaths in Samar 'misencounter'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 30) — The Philippine Army's 8th Infantry Division on Saturday apologized to the loved ones of six policemen killed in the supposed misencounter in Samar, and promised to cooperate in the probe.

In a statement, the Philippine Army offered its "sincerest apology" to the families, relatives and friends of six members of the 805th Mobile Company of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 8, who were killed in an alleged friendly fire incident in Barangay San Roque, Sta. Rita town, last Monday.

"We will expedite the conduct of the investigation so that the truth will be established and [to] ease the burden of sorrow of the bereaved families," the Army said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are conducting a joint investigation.

PNP Chief Dir. Gen Oscar Albayalde said they are looking into the possibility that the supposed misencounter was an ambush. Sixteen Army officers are under investigation and were already disarmed.

The Philippine Army said the incident was an "accident" and the Army platoon leader thought the police were members of the New People's Army, the armed wing of the communist group that has waged five decades of insurgency.

President Rodrigo Duterte said he is taking full responsibility for the incident, urging both the PNP and AFP to "forget the hurts." He also visited the wake of the slain policemen on Friday and comforted their families.