Villagers displaced by hostilities between 2 Moro factions

John Unson - Philstar.com
Villagers displaced by hostilities between 2 Moro factions
Most of the villagers affected by the conflict are now in a public gymnasium in South Manuangan in Pigcawayan.
Photo courtesy of Philstar.com / John Unson

COTABATO CITY — A Moro gunman was killed while six others were reportedly hurt in a series of gunfights in Barangay Banucagon, Pigcawayan town in Cotabato on Wednesday afternoon, forcing hundreds of villagers to evacuate.

Citing reports relayed by local executives, officials of Army units in the province and Col. Gilbert Tuzon, director of the Cotabato provincial police, told reporters on Thursday that the protagonists in the gunfights are two enemy groups belonging to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Evacuees, among them three Muslim religious preachers, have confirmed that one died while six others were wounded in the gunfights of the two groups, squabbling for control of territories and locked in deep-seated animosity triggered by their having supported different candidates during the Oct. 30, 2023 synchronized Sangguniang Kabataan and barangay elections.

Barangay officials and personnel of the Pigcawayan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office told reporters on Thursday morning that at least 600 villagers, among them children, were displaced by the hostilities.

The Pigcawayan LGU have relocated the affected villagers to a public gymnasium in Barangay South Manuangan in the same town, while some have moved to houses of relatives in agricultural enclaves far from the areas where the two MILF groups figured in gunfights using M16 and M14 assault rifles.

Army Major Gen. Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and Region 12 police director Brig. Gen. Augustus Placer, sent emissaries to work out the disengagement of the two groups to pave the way for the peaceful resolution of the conflict.

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