Civilians flee as feuding ex-Moro rebels exchange gunfire
KIDAPAWAN CITY—An intense firefight between family members and followers of two Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) commanders broke out in Pikit town, Cotabato province, sending people in their neighborhood fleeing to safety.
Major Maxim Peralta, Pikit police chief, said the followers of a certain Commander Bugdad and Ustadz Walid Mamasamlang exchanged gunfire around 7 p.m. on Wednesday that lasted until dawn of Thursday in Barangay Macabual.
Out of fear, at least a hundred families in Macabual and from nearby Barangay Gli-gli left their homes and sought temporary shelter from relatives, added Peralta.
As of Thursday morning, the police could not say if there were casualties due to the gunfight.
Peralta said they traced the recent violence to a “rido” that, in turn, stemmed from the killing of village chair Jalandoni Akas last July.
A resident of Barangay Gli-gli said apart from rifles, resients also heard mortar blasts hitting the houses of several families.
Mayor Sumulong Sultan has asked the police and the Army to conduct checkpoints to prevent the escalation of violence into nearby villages.
Barangay Macabual, where the firefight happened, is just 4 kilometers away from the town center.
Sultan has also sought assistance from the MILF and government ceasefire monitoring teams to conduct a dialogue between the two warring MILF commanders to avoid similar incidents in the future.
The mayor also urged the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office to attend to the needs of the evacuees immediately.
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