2 children killed, 15 wounded from mortar shelling in Maguindanao on Eid’l Fit’r
COTABATO CITY—Two girls aged 10 and seven years old were killed by a mortar that landed on their house in a village of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao in the afternoon of Sunday, as the Muslim world observed Eid’l Fit’r.
Aslamiya Tambak, 10, and her sister Asnaida Tambak, 7, were watching television with their mother Noraisa, when the mortar shell went through the roof of their house in Kitango village, Datu Saudi Ampatuan town past 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Shards from the mortar hit the girls and wounded their mother and five-year-old brother Norsaid.
Andrew Ameen Alonto, information chief of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said the girls’ mother was critically injured and was immediately rushed to the Cotabato Regional Medical Center.
Alonto cited a situation report from the BARMM Ministry of Social Welfare and Development (MSWD) which said 15 people were wounded, five of them were hospitalized while the rest were sent home for minor injuries.
It was not clear how many houses were hit in the area but village officials said there were a number of mortar shells that hit the village on Sunday, wounding a total of 15 people.
Among the five who were wounded and admitted in the hospital was five-year-old boy Datu Juhad Singh.
Musib Tan, Datu Saudi municipal administrator, said the village of Kitango was celebrating Eid’l Fit’r before the shelling started.
“The victims, like many of us yesterday, were in a celebratory mood,” said Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister of Local Government in the Bangsamoro who condemned the killing.
“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 a tragedy.”
“This dastardly act is unacceptable and must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” Sinarimbo said.
Abdulraof Macacua, executive secretary of the BARMM, said the children died from mortar shell at the time when the whole world’s main concern was to stay safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. Macacua said the children who were “innocent,” had to die in the hands of those “expert” and “experienced” people who “knew what they were doing.”
“We have this agreement on cessation of hostilities, agreements in dealing with other armed group, agreement on coordination,” said Macacua, former chief of staff of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who signed the peace deal with the government and whose forces were now at the helm of the Bangsamoro. “Incidents like this could have been avoided if all these protocols had been followed,” he added.
The army and the police vowed to conduct separate probes on the incident.
Lt. Colonel Edgardo Vilchez, spokesperson for the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the Army had sent investigating team in the area where the explosion occurred.
Colonel Arnold Santiago, Maguindanao police director, said he had ordered the Datu Saudi Ampatuan municipal police office to conduct a separate probe.
Residents also asked the Commission on Human Rights to also conduct an independent investigation to determine who was responsible.
Vilchez said skirmishes had been on-going between elements of 57th Infantry Battalion and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) since Thursday last week.
Four detachments of the 57th Infantry Battalion had been repeatedly attacked by BIFF under Kagi Karialan faction, said Musib Tan, Datu Saudi municipal administrator.
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