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Basilan town mayor slain in Zamboanga attack

Roel Pareño - The Philippine Star
Basilan town mayor slain in Zamboanga attack
Police cordon an alley in Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City, where an attack that killed Mayor Darussalam Lajid and an escort of another mayor occurred yesterday.
Roel Pareno

Another mayor wounded, escort killed

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — A municipal mayor in Basilan and a security escort were killed, while another mayor was wounded in an attack by four unidentified assailants in this city’s coastal area yesterday morning.

Mayor Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka and Barad Nuruddin were declared dead on arrival at the Brent Hospital due to multiple gunshot wounds, according to Maj. Chester Natividad, chief of the Zamboanga City police Station 11.

Taken to the same hospital for treatment of gunshot wounds was Mayor Alih Salih of Akbar town, also in Basilan.

Nuruddin was a driver-escort of Salih while Lajid’s bodyguard, whose name was not immediately available, survived the attack that occurred at around 8:30 a.m. at the Baliwasan Seaside in Barangay Baliwasan.

“The victims arrived from Basilan in a motorboat. They were walking toward their vehicle when the assailants, who were waiting in an alley shot them,” Natividad said.

Witnesses told police the assailants escaped in a sport utility vehicle and a motorboat.

The remains of Lajid and Nuruddin were immediately brought back to Basilan by their families.

Natividad said probers have yet to determine the motive for the attack.

He said the city police asked the Basilan police to help solve the crime.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman condemned the attack and directed the provincial police to help the Zamboanga City police identify the assailants.

Lajid recently signed a peace pact with his vice mayor, Mujib Jakilan, after their followers figured in a shootout that left two persons dead and three others wounded in August.

“We cannot determine yet the motive. But it’s political season and if they have conflict in their jurisdiction, it seems they had drawn the conflict here. We have no idea about the nature of their conflict,” Natividad said.

House Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman condemned the killing of Lajid, saying the crime has no place in a society that is anchored on peace and shared faith.

“I condemn the people behind the shooting, and I call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of a public official and the wounding of another,” Hataman said.

Hataman, former governor of the defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said that while he and Lajid do not belong to the same political party, still they are Basileños who wish nothing but the improvement of the lives of their constituents.

Hataman said he, Lajid and Salih were colleagues in the Basilan Peace Riders as well as in the Basilan Practical Shooters Association. – John Unson, Delon Porcalla, Neil Jayson Servallos

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