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2 soldiers killed in Marawi attack

John Unson (Philstar.com) - December 29, 2015 - 12:42am

MARAWI CITY, Philippines - Suspected Middle Eastern-inspired extremists on Tuesday killed two non-Muslim soldiers in a daring attack at a busy spot here.

The soldiers, who both belong to the Army’s 65th Infantry Battalion, were attacked near a radio station owned by the Ranao Broadcasting Corporation, which has security cameras focused on its surroundings.

Local officials said the victims were buying something in a vegetable and fruit market just meters away from the radio station when motorcycle-riding gunmen came close and opened fire with handguns, killing them both on the spot.

In a text message, the public information office in the Lanao del Sur provincial capitol in Buadi Sacayo area here said an innocent fruit vendor, who was hit by a stray bullet, was rushed to the Amai Pakpak public hospital for medication.

Col. Roseller Murillo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Brigade, said the slain soldiers, whose battalion is under his jurisdiction, were tasked to help the police gather information on Saturday’s attack on a visiting ABS-CBN news team in Banggolo District in Marawi City.

The three Iligan City-based ABS-CBN employees, reporter Ronnie Enderes, cameraman Emilito Balansag and driver Garry Montecillo, survived the ambush unscathed, but their vehicle was damaged by ricocheting bullets their motorcycle-riding assailants fired at them.

Murillo declined to name the slain soldiers pending notification of their respective families.

Lanao del Sur Gov. Mamintal Adiong Jr, chairman of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, condemned the murder of the two enlisted soldiers.

“I immediately directed the provincial police to investigate on the incident, identify the perpetrators and file appropriate criminal charges against them,” Adiong told The STAR via text message.

Marawi City, the capital of Lanao del Sur, is now touted as the new crime capital of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Marawi City local government unit has long been subject of criticisms for its failure to address domestic security issues, including the wanton peddling of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) everywhere, even in school campuses and near mosques.

The Marawi City chief of police, Superintendent Al Abner Wahab Santos, was killed in an ambush last October while on his way to his office here from a conference at the nearby Lanao del Sur provincial police headquarters.

The brutal murder of Santos, who hails from Pagadian City, remain unsolved.

Local officials and peace activists said Marawi City is also a hotbed now of jihadist activities involving local groups sympathetic to ISIS.

A group, in fact, displayed the iconic ISIS black flag in a mosque here in late 2014 after a noontime Friday Jumaah prayer rite to show allegiance to ISIS.

 

AMAI PAKPAK AUTONOMOUS REGION BANGGOLO DISTRICT BUADI SACAYO CITY EMILITO BALANSAG GARRY MONTECILLO ILIGAN CITY LANAO MARAWI CITY NBSP
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