GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Heavily armed men staged an ambush and killed at least nine people and hurt three others in a village in Maguindanao province on Saturday morning, February 12.
Police blamed the killings on a feud between the families of two commanders of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF-MILF).
Captain Fayeed Cana, the spokesperson of the Maguindanao police, said the main target of the attack was Peges Lentagi Mamasainged, otherwise known as Black Magic, a commander of the BIAF-MILF.
She said authorities had launched pursuit operations against the armed group allegedly led by Jordan Malalintang and his son Morsid. Like Mamasainged, the elder Malalintang is also a BIAF commander, and the two were feuding cousins.
Mamasainged died along with his sons Johari, Sadam, Sadr, and five others.
Police said another family member, Kamar Mamasainged, and one Tani were also killed in the ambush.
Three companions of the Mamsainged’s group – Anwar Dimasinsin, Sanjen Mamasainged, and Baunal Lumabad – were struggling for life in a hospital as of this posting.
The victims were in two sports utility vehicles on their way to the town of Datu Saudi Ampatuan when the armed group rained them with bullets on a two-lane road in Sitio Dam, Barangay Kalumamis, Guindulungan in Maguindanao.
Police said the victims were going to attend a kanduli (thanksgiving banquet) to celebrate a rido settlement in Barangay Kitapok, Datu Saudi Ampatuan town when they were attacked.
Bloodstains on the narrow road led to the body of another man several meters from the bullet-riddled vehicles. Police said it looked like the victim was trying to escape.
Crime scene investigators said the empty shells found near the vehicles came from high-powered firearms such as M14 and M16 rifles.
Talayan Mayor Midpantao Midtimbang Jr. said the ambush was staged at around 8 am, about 10 kilometers from the Cotabato City-Sultan Kudarat highway. – Rappler.com
Rommel Rebollido is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship