A town mayor in this province was unscathed in a Sunday afternoon ambush but four of his relief workers were wounded, reports said.
Mayor Reynalbert Insular of South Upi, Maguindanao was in the convoy of relief workers who have just distributed relief aid to displaced families affected by armed conflict when ambushed at around 2 p.m. in Barangay Pandan, South Upi.
Insular was with members of the South Upi Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) heading towards the South Upi town center from a relief mission in Barangay Itaw when gunmen, positioned on both sides of the road opened fire on the vehicles.
Around 599 families of the village were in dire need of help and immediate attention after the area was attacked by a still unidentified armed group involved in atrocities stemming from land conflict.
Locals tagged the attackers only as “taga-labas” or outsiders, without elaborating.
Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, Army’s 6th Infantry Division commander, said elements of the 57th Infantry Battalion (IB) rescued the ambush victims and rushed them to the hospital.
“Those injured are now undergoing medication at a government hospital in Cotabato City, some 60 kilometers away from South Upi,” Uy said.
On New Year’s Day, dozens of Teduray families in Barangay Itaw were forced to flee when gunmen believed to be land grabbers opened fire on their houses.
Soldiers from the Army’s 57th IB fired mortars and rockets toward the position of fleeing ambushers as of 4 p.m.
The suspects in the ambush and the New Year’s Day harassments in Barangay Itaw could be one and the same, an Army intelligence report indicated.
Uy has ordered the Army to establish presence in Barangay Itaw to ensure the safety of civilians and farmers. CURRENTPH