MANILA, Philippines – More than a dozen villagers, a number of them were children, were injured when a merry-making tradition to mark the eve of a tribal wedding turned bloody in a remote town in Basilan shortly before midnight of Saturday, March 31.
Reports reaching the Basilan Provincial Police Office said a number of residents were gathered in a home in Barangay Tong-sengal in Sumisip town around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday to hold a customary feasting as a pre-wedding ceremony for a Yakan tribe couple, when an explosion, followed by a series of gunfires were heard.
“There were some guests who were performing the Pangalay (a native Tausug dance) when it was interrupted by a loud explosion,” said Hassad Kunahi, one of those injured in the attack. “A successive gunfire followed next, there was complete chaos in the place.”
As people scampered to safety, 13 people were hurt after sustaining gunshot and shrapnel wounds. They were rushed to the Basilan Community (BasCom) Hospital in Isabela City. A number of the victims were children, according to medical personnel.
Aside from Kunahi, the other victims were identified as Loy Junjam, Nasri Saluan, Muamar Majang, Jamiro Amigos, Anasani Toki, Jaari Daia, Nuraifa Jaari, Aning Talani, Sahang Kambang, Bahia Bulansang, Mamang Bulansang and certain Ibno.
According to provincial police director Sr Supt Alex Lineses, the subject of the attack a certain Muhammad Balakat who is involved in a rido or long-time clan war with one of the suspects.
Police investigators have yet to establish the identify of the assailants.
Meanwhile in Al-Barka town, the military reported that an alleged leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) was reported killed after figuring in an armed encounter caused also by a rido.
Colonel Romy Yogyog, commander of the Army’s Special Operations Task Force-Basilan (SOTF-Basilan) identified the fatality as Long Malat Sulayman, an ASG leader who was also linked in the October 2011 Al-Barka attack which killed 19 elite members of the Army’s elite Scout Ranger Battalion.
Reports said Sulayman “was ambushed by a lawless group led by a certain Ibnie Mallapin and a son of a rebel leader identified only as a certain Ombong” at Barangay Kuhon Lennuh around 11am Sunday, April 1.
Quoting intelligence reports, Yogyog said Sulayman sustained a fatal wound in one of his legs. He reportedly died around 3pm.
Along with a number of suspected ASG members, Sulayman has been a subject of pursuit operations by local authorities for his involvement in a string of criminal activities including kidnapping. – Rappler.com