Schools in Zamboanga suspend classes amid AFP operations

Soldiers pursuing suspected kidnappers of 8-yr old boy

PURSUIT OPERATION. Classes in an island village in Zamboanga City were suspended after government troops clashed with suspected bandits on Wednesday, February 8.

MANILA, Philippines – Classes in elementary and secondary levels in 3 public schools in a remote island in Zamboanga City were suspended on Wednesday, February 8, after government troops clashed with armed men suspected to be behind a number of kidnapping cases in the region.

Members of the Army’s Task Force Zamboanga were pursuing a group of armed men, identified initially as the “Pingli brothers,” in a mangrove area in Barangay Langdang Laum around 9.45 am, when the suspects resisted arrest and fought back.

Suspects are facing warrants of arrests for various criminal offenses, including kidnap for ransom.

Reports reaching mainland Zamboanga City said that terrified parents hurriedly fetched their children from the Landang Laum Elementary School after they overheard gunshots emanating from an undisclosed area on Sacol Island.

Barangay Landang Laum is just among the 4 villages located on Sacol Island, along with Landang Gua, Busay and Pasilmanta.

City schools division superintendent Pete Natividad said he ordered school officials in Landang Laum and Busay to temporarily keep the students in their custody. According to Natividad, this is to ensure that the students avoid being caught in the gunfire, in case they attempt to cross the sea to reach the mainland.

As of posting time, Natividad has yet to receive a report from his personnel in Landang Laum and Busay but is optimistic that the schools remained safe.

But in Landang Gua Integrated School, which caters to both the elementary and secondary levels, I allowed the teachers to let their students go home early on,” Natividad told Rappler. The 4th school, the Pasilmanta Elementary School, went on with its regular classes.

Classes for at least 1,000 students from the 3 affected schools were either interrupted for a few hours or eventually suspended, according to Natividad.

Task Force Zamboanga chief Colonel Buenaventura Pascual said his troops recovered an abandoned motor pump boat and components used in bomb-making including 9-voltz batteries, blasting caps, wire and ammonium nitrate commonly used in producing explosives.

Attack in Basilan

In neighboring Isabela City, Basilan, a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is now a subject of a police manhunt after allegedly attacking 3 people on Tuesday afternoon.

The Isabela City police said the victims were “walking in a bushy area” in Barangay Masola around 4 pm on Tuesday, when a group “of about 10 armed men” opened fire at them.

The fatality was identified as a certain Alih Tindal, 17, supposedly a son of a rebel leader based in the island province.

Police witnesses named a certain Taeh Baloloy, an alleged follower of ASG leader Puruji Indama, as among the suspects who led the attack. –

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