Revenge behind 2 massacres; 10 killed
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Twelve-year-old Henrito Bayambang was walking home after classes at Tininghalang Elementary School in Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur, on Thursday when he crossed the path of a group of armed men.
Suddenly, without a word, the men started shooting at the boy, killing him instantly.
Not content, the attackers drew their machetes and took turns hacking at the lifeless body of Bayambang, said Senior Supt. Jose Bayani Gucela, Zamboanga del Sur police director, recounting witnesses’ accounts of the deadly attack at the Zamboanga Sur town.
About a hundred meters from where Bayambang was killed, the armed men continued with their orgy of killing, cutting down five more people, including a toddler, and throwing explosives at houses.
When the smoke cleared, six people, including Bayambang, had been killed and 14 were wounded.
“The attackers were extremely angry from the way the victims were killed,” Gucela said.
Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo on Saturday ordered a manhunt for the perpetrators of the massacre in Lapuyan.
In a separate directive, Robredo also ordered a probe into another deadly attack involving four victims, two of them children, who were hacked to death in Lopez town in Quezon, also on Thursday.
Giving tips to police
According to Gucela, the initial police investigation showed that the motive for the attack was revenge for the killing of a bandit leader two weeks ago.
He identified the leaders of the armed group that attacked Lapuyan as brothers Ami and Pahad Andi.
The two are younger brothers of Sammang Andi, a bandit leader reportedly involved in kidnapping and extortion activities in Lapuyan, and who was killed in a shoot-out with police and the military last Feb. 11.
“They [the brothers] suspected that members of the community were responsible for providing police with information on the whereabouts of their elder brother, Sammang,” Gucela said.
According to the Western Mindanao Command spokesperson, Lt. Col. Randolph Cabangbang, local militiamen in Lapuyan had helped the police and the military in finding Sammang.
Shot everyone in sight
“The operation resulted in the neutralization of Sammang Andi. The attackers were blaming militiamen, especially Dencio Tabayag, who served as a guide in neutralizing Sammang,” Cabangbang said.
He said most of those killed in the attack last Thursday were relatives of Tabayag.
According to the police investigation, the attackers, numbering 15, had arrived in Sitio Bahing in Barangay Tininghalang at around 5:30 p.m.
“After throwing dynamites, they strafed and shot everyone in sight. They also started hacking the victims,” he said.
The other fatalities were identified as Junjun Tumbal Bangholot, 55; Rex Langhay, 29, and his wife, Raquel, 25; 2-year-old Karyl Daano and 29-year-old Daylin Golpin.
Cops arrive late
It did not seem to matter that Daano was a mere child. She was hacked on the head several times.
Gucela said responding police from the town center failed to catch up with the attackers. He explained that the police had arrived late as they were slowed down by the poor condition of the road to Tininghalang.
He said police were now in pursuit of the suspects but none have been sighted so far.
The residents of Sitio Bahing have decided to leave their homes, said Gucela.
“They fear that the armed men will return,” he said.
“I have directed [Zamboanga Peninsula police director Gen. Napoleon] Estilles and [Quezon police director Col. Ericson] Velasquez to work for the arrest and prosecution of the suspects in these two massacre incidents. We should not allow these armed and dangerous murderers to roam around and go scot-free,” Robredo said in a statement.
No suspect has been identified in the Quezon murders, and Velasquez said the attack must have occurred while the victims were asleep as there were no signs of a struggle. With a report from DJ Yap in Manila
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