Air strikes displace 2,331 persons in Patikul, Sulu
ZAMBOANGA CITY — Intensified military operations in the far-flung barangays of Patikul, Sulu, have increased the number of displaced families to 731 (or 2,331 individuals) from the 399 initially reported, the provincial social welfare officer of Sulu said.
Hindun Angsa, Sulu social welfare officer, said the evacuees came from Upper Latih, Bungkaung, Maligay and Sitio Kantitap in Barangay Buhanginan.
These have been the target of relentless military operations as soldiers pursued the Abu Sayyar suspected to be behind the bombings of the Jolo cathedral which killed 22 and wounded more than a hundred people.
“The number (of evacuees) keep on rising due to the ongoing military operation in nearby barangays, especially in Upper Latih, Bungkaung, Maligay and in Sitio Kantitap in Barangay Buhanginan,” Angsa said.
She said the displaced families were temporarily holed in Lower Latih, a village in the boundary of Jolo and Patikul. The rest took refuge in the houses of relatives.
“These families were displaced due to bombings in their barangays, some abandoned their homes when the military started searching their homes. They fear being mistaken for members of the Abu (Sayyaf),” Angsa said.
Minah Mohmar, a school teacher said her families in Patikul and Indanan towns felt trapped.
“They cannot get out of their house in Patikul and in Indanan. My nephews, nieces, and grandparents are getting hungry,” she said.
“I have some cousins who went down to Jolo to buy food last week, until now, they cannot get through. Some were able to enter their towns because they decided to carry a small amount of food,” she added
Mohmar said they didn’t mind the strict inspections at checkpoints. “We are already used to it, but to prevent our families from bringing in a sack of rice, that’s no longer acceptable,” she said.
Brigadier General Divino Rey Pabayo, commander of the 11th Infantry Division said their troops were conducting a focused military operation in the area to flush out the Abu Sayyaf. /lzb