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Firefight displaces residents in North Cotabato

John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 8, 2015 - 10:06pm

NORTH COTABATO, Philippines - Hundreds of villagers were displaced Tuesday when gunmen attacked a secluded agricultural enclave in North Cotabato’s Tulunan town, provoking a three-hour firefight with armed peasants that left six people dead and two others wounded.

The hostilities erupted when marauding gunmen approached Sitio Saban in Barangay Maybula and shot farmers plowing their fields with M16 and M14 assault rifles.

Sition Saban in southwest of Tulunan is a productive hinterland agricultural area located at the boundary of Tulunan and Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat.

The initial bursts of automatic gunfire alerted armed villagers, enabling them to counter-attack from different directions.

The gunfight waned only when the attackers ran out of ammunition and retreated southward.

The chief of the Tulunan municipal police, Senior Inspector Ronnie Dillera, confirmed the deaths of three Sitio Saban residents in the ensuing encounter.

The fatalities, Renato Tadiaque, Anthony Camiring and Loloy Lumacad, all died on the spot from gunshot wounds they sustained while trying to drive the gunmen away.

Dillera said Lumacad was a security guard of a banana plantation near the scene of the firefight.

Dillera said more than 200 villagers were displaced by the incident. 

Villagers had killed three of the attackers, according to Dillera.

He said pursuing policemen and barangay officials found the bullet-riddled cadavers of the suspects sprawled in an open field nearby.

The retreating gunmen also opened fire on pursuing policemen before they ran away carrying two wounded companions.

Local officials are convinced Tuesday’s attack at Sitio Saban could be related still to the earlier bloody squabbles for control of strategic patches of lands in the area among local Ilonggo, Lumad and Moro peasant groups.

North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza on Wednesday ordered Senior Superintendent Alex Tagum, provincial police director, to investigate on the incident and recommend measures that can forestall a repeat of Tuesday’s hostilities in Sitio Saban.

The governor had also tasked the provincial social welfare office to help the Tulunan local government unit attend to the needs of the beleaguered villagers forced to relocate to neutral areas.

ANTHONY CAMIRING AND LOLOY LUMACAD BARANGAY MAYBULA DILLERA EMMYLOU TALI LUMAD AND MORO NBSP NORTH COTABATO NORTH COTABATO GOV RENATO TADIAQUE SITIO SABAN TULUNAN
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