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2 kids killed, 14 wounded in Maguindanao mortar blast

COTABATO CITY—What would have been a happy Eid-al Fitr on Sunday turned into tra­gedy in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, when two girls, aged 10 and 7, were killed by a mortar that hit their house as they were watching television, according to a town official.

Aslamiya Tambak, 10, and her sister, Asnaida, 7, were watching TV with their mo­ther Noraisa in their house in Barangay Kitango when the mortar shell went through their roof past 4 p.m., hitting the girls and wounding their mother and 5-year-old brother, Norsaid.

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Musib Tan, municipal administrator, said the girls died instantly while their mother was taken to Cotabato Regio­nal and Medical Center in this city.

Damaged houses

It was not clear yet how many houses were damaged in the area, but Kitango officials said there were a number of mortar shells that hit the village on Sunday, wounding a total of 14 people, including the Tambaks.

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Abdulraof Macacua, exe­cutive secretary of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, posted the list of the dead and the woun­ded on his social media account. Aside from the girls’ mother and brother, the list included other minors, among them, 7-year-old Saud Ebus; 16-year-old Najima Pua, who has a disability; and 15-year-old Jepu Pua. Tan said families in Kitango were celebrating Eid-al Fitr, or the end of Ramadan, before the shelling started.

“The victims, like many of us [on Sunday], were in a ce­lebratory mood,” said lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, regional minister of local government.

“Eid is the biggest and most honored festivity in Islam. These kids, like many of our kids, were in playful mood and celebrating what oftentimes is their first completion of the fast. Little did they know that this would end in tragedy,” Sinarimbo said.

Probe

“This dastardly act is unacceptable and must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” he added.

Military and police officials said they would conduct separate investigations.

Lt. Col. Edgardo Vilchez Jr., speaking for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the military had sent an investigating team to Datu Saudi Ampatuan.

Police Col. Arnold Santiago, Maguindanao police director, said he ordered the town police to start a separate probe. Residents also asked the Commission on Human Rights to determine who was responsible for the shelling.

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According to Vilchez, skirmishes have been ongoing between soldiers from the 57th Infantry Battalion (IB) and members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) since Thursday last week.

Tan said four detachments of 57th IB had been repeatedly attacked by a faction of BIFF. —WITH A REPORT FROM GERMELINA LACORTE

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TAGS: Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Kitango, Maguindanao, Musib Tan, ramadan
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