Group formed to probe killing of Basilan mayor, companion

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga del Sur—A special investigation task group (SITG) has been created to hunt against suspects behind the killing of Al-Barka, Basilan Mayor Darussalam Lajid and Farrad Nurrudin, and the wounding of another mayor.

Colonel Rexmel Reyes, director of the Zamboanga City Police Office (ZCPO), said the SITG Sali and Lajid is tasked to uncover the identities of the attackers as well as establish the possible motives for the attack.

“The possible motive is related to personal grudge or rido, however, the investigators are not discounting the possibility of political-related concerns due to the fact that the victims are incumbent elected officials and are aspirants for the upcoming 2022 national and local elections,” Reyes said.

He added that the police already have persons of interest in the investigation.

The slain mayor had been accompanied by Mayor Alih Awal Sali of Akbar town, also in Basilan, their driver (and Sali’s cousin) Nurrudin and other escorts, as they were on their way to a seaside mosque when they were ambushed by four unidentified gunmen on motorcycles on Monday.

Nurrudin was also killed, while Sali was in critical condition in a local hospital.

Reyes said Lajid and Sali were just passing by Zamboanga City as they were bound for Davao City to attend a meeting of Mindanao mayors on Tuesday.

Lajid was buried in his place at Al-Barka town, the bodyguard-driver of Sali was brought to his town in Akbar. During the burial of Lajid on Monday, thousands of residents including children rushed to his residence and paid homage to the mayor.

Sali is still in a critical condition, but he is now stable, says Lt. Agnes Miro, ZCPO spokesperson.

Reyes is appealing to people who witnessed or have any information about the crime to aid the police in solving the case.

“We assure that all information provided is treated with utmost confidentiality,” Reyes said.

Lajid’s family in Al-Barka is still mum about the incident.

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