4 dead, 4 hurt as groups clash in Pagalungan
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2013 - 6:17pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - Four Moro bandits were killed while four others were wounded as they attacked Wednesday dawn a rival group led by a former barangay chairman in Pagalungan town.

The incident forced dozens of poor Moro families to evacuate to safer areas.

Captain Tony Bulao, spokesman of the Army’s 602nd Brigade, identified the slain gunmen as Nasrulah, Aladdin, Datukan and Mamatanto, who belonged to a guerrilla gang led by Commanders Bhuto and Bigkog.

Members of the Pagalungan municipal peace and order council said Bhuto and Bigkog are both identified with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The two commanders and their men first surrounded a farming village in Barangay Bago Inged in Pagalungan and shot houses with assault rifles.

The group’s target, Mokamad Andoy, resides in Barangay Bago Inged, a secluded district in the impoverished, politically-troubled Pagalungan town, located in the second district of Maguindanao.

The family of Andoy, who was a former barangay chairman of Bago Inged, who had also served as president of Pagalungan’s association of barangay captains, is locked in a bloody “rido” (clan war) with relatives of Bigkog and Bhuto.

Andoy and his followers, also armed with assault rifles, traded shots with their attackers for almost 40 minutes. The  firefight waned at about 6:30 a.m. Monday after four of the bandits got killed  in the ensuing gunbattle.

Bulao said the bandits escaped toward a swampy area near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta.

Evacuees have confirmed that four other bandits were wounded in the initial skirmish.

Another group of gunmen identified with Bigkug and Bhuto arrived at Barangay Bago Inged after a three-hour lull in hostilities, triggering another encounter, which left four followers of Andoy wounded.

The hostilities escalated when supporters and relatives of Andoy from the MILF's National Guards Division, led by Samir Salamat, joined the foray and helped repel the heavily armed attackers.

The latest encounters between the group of Andoy and the bandits was this month's third, according to local officials.

Residents of Pagalungan have asked the police to investigate on the recurring hostilities, convinced they could be related to the forthcoming October 28 barangay elections.

Several relatives of Andoy are candidates for elective barangay posts, running against aspirants being supported by Bhuto and Bigkog.

Bulao said the main concern of the 602nd Brigade now is to prevent any spill over of the hostilities in Barangay Bago Inged to surrounding barangays and communities traversed by the Cotabato-Davao Highway.

He said the commanding officer of the 602nd Brigade, Gen. Ademar Tomaro, has asked the government's Coordinating Committee on the Cessation of Hostilities, which has a counterpart in the MILF, to work out the immediate disengagement of the feuding groups. - John Unson

ADEMAR TOMARO ANDOY BAGO INGED BARANGAY BARANGAY BAGO INGED BHUTO AND BIGKOG BIGKOG AND BHUTO BIGKUG AND BHUTO BULAO CAPTAIN TONY BULAO PAGALUNGAN
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