BARMM police chief orders strategy review due to increasing gun attacks

Rommel Rebollido

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BARMM police chief orders strategy review due to increasing gun attacks

AMBUSH. A vehicle is riddled with bullets in Sultan Kudrat town, Maguindanao del Norte. The May 26 gun attack killed a nurse and hurt her husband badly.

Sultan Kudarat Police Station

The BARMM police records 220 shooting incidents in the region from January to May alone, many of which took place in the two Maguindanao provinces

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Gun violence, some of which resulted in mass evacuations, continued to undermine peace efforts in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), prompting the region’s police chief to order every police unit to review their local anti-criminality strategies.

BARMM police director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza issued the order as he noted an increasing number of gun attacks in the predominantly Muslim region.

From January to May alone, the police recorded 220 shooting incidents, many of which took place in the provinces of Maguindanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Sur.

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Nobleza said the situation was unacceptable as he pointed out that some of the shootings took place near police outposts or along patrol routes of the police.

He ordered intensified efforts in combating criminality, particularly in crime-prone areas, and a fresh crackdown on illegal firearms in collaboration with local governments.

On Friday evening, May 26, a woman was killed and another was wounded in an ambush staged by a still unidentified group in the village of Ungap in Sultan Kudarat town, Maguindanao del Norte province. 

The attack resulted in the killing of a government nurse, Sarifa Kabagani Gulam, who worked at the Cotabato Sanitarium Hospital in Maguindanao del Norte. 

Sultan Kudarat town police chief Lieutenant Colonel Julhamin Asdani said the nurse’s husband, Samir Tula Gulam, an industrial contractor, was seriously hurt as a result of the ambush. 

A day before the ambush, two plantation workers were killed in a similar surprise gun attack in Barangay Satan in Shariff Aguak town in neighboring Maguindanao del Sur province. 

Police said the victims, Kamsa Sinalambai Abdullaziz and Mohaladin Said Pangalaw, residents of Satan village, were headed to Datu Hoffer town in Maguindanao del Sur when they were ambushed.

Also on Friday afternoon, May 26, a tricycle driver was fatally shot at the old market site in Barangay Poblacion Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao del Norte. 

The victim, identified as 47-year-old Ulem Udal Maulana of the village of Makir in Datu Odin Sinsuat, was believed to have been shot dead in the aftermath of a violent clash between two feuding groups in Barangay Ambolodto, also in the same town, earlier that day, according to municipal police chief Major Regie Albellera.

Albellera said the police received a report about an exchange of gunfire between the two armed groups, one associated with Ambolodto barangay chairman Loay Keith Sinsuat and the other with former Maguindanao provincial board member Jojo Limbona. 

A grenade was exploded near a public school in the village of Baka in Datu Odin Sinsuat town on Friday evening, said Albellera.

Sinsuat has alleged that an armed group aboard pick-up trucks with Mindanao State University (MSU) markings had attempted to occupy their village. Limbona, meanwhile, denied any involvement, saying that he was falsely implicated.

Although no one was hurt in the exchange, the skirmishes forced many residents to flee their homes as a result.

Monesa Ayao-Sale, the head of Datu Odin Sinsuat’s Municipal Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said 185 families from Sitio Balong in Barangay Ambolodto evacuated due to the fear of being caught in the crossfires. 

There were at least 30 families from Barangay Kurintem and another 20 families from Barangay Sapalan who also fled their homes, the MDRRMO said.

There was also a violent attack in Pagalungan town in Maguindanao del Sur several days before and the town’s mayor, Salik Mamasabulod, denied allegations that it was the handiwork of his men.

Shots were fired at the house of Mamasabulod’s election rival, Suod Matalam, just as the mayor’s convoy passed by on the afternoon of May 17.

Mamasabulod said he and his group passed by Matalam’s house that afternoon but said he was unaware of shots being fired about that time.

Over local broadcaster DXMY, Mamasabulod said he has discussed the matter with Maguindanao del Sur police director Colonel Roel Sermese but did not elaborate further. –

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